This versatile lion pendant-brooch necklace was worn repeatedly by Mrs. Reagan in each of its various forms — as both longer and shorter necklaces, with and without the pendant brooch and/or the matching earrings. Each quarter section of chain can also be worn as a bracelet. The First Lady was famously photographed alongside Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher wearing this necklace during a state visit to the United Kingdom in 1988.
There is no bag more iconic, coveted or collectible than the Hermès Kelly bag. This beautiful, exotic crocodile iteration in the petite 20cm size makes this particular Kelly an eloquent statement piece typical of Mrs. Reagan’s sophisticated style.
The Italian jewel house was a favourite of Mrs. Reagan and she was often adorned with Bulgari jewellery for state dinners and formal White House functions. This ring was worn on 4 July 1986 for Liberty Weekend celebrations aboard the USS Iowa in New York Harbor.
A patron of American fashion houses and designers, the First Lady chose one of her favourite accessories designers, Judith Leiber, to design purses for the inauguration dinners in 1981 and 1984. This crystal Art Deco ornament handbag is a copy of the original Leiber bag created to be worn with the First Lady’s white ensemble during the second inauguration ball in 1984.
This patriotic pendant necklace by American jeweller Oscar Heyman & Bros. is inscribed on the reverse, ‘NANCY, LOVE DEEDIE-TOM’, and was almost certainly a gift to Mrs. Reagan from Tom and Deedie Chauncey. Dated to 1976, it was perhaps offered to mark the end of her successful tenure as First Lady of California.
The Chaunceys were family friends of the Reagans who lived in Arizona. The Reagans often visited Arizona to see Mrs. Reagan’s mother Edith and stepfather Dr. Loyal Davis, and during these trips they would also spend time with the Chaunceys. Tom Chauncey owned a radio station, and Deedie was a member of the Wrigley gum family of Chicago. The Chaunceys were passionate about horses, which no doubt forged a bond with the Reagans, who purchased horses from them over the years.
Mrs. Reagan regularly chose a petite evening clutch over a larger top handle or shoulder bag to accompany her stylish ensembles while performing her duties as First Lady. She was often seen toting a Judith Leiber clutch in her favoured colour, ‘Nancy Reagan red’.
Renowned Beverly Hills jeweller William Ruser was a favourite of Mrs. Reagan, and she had a number of his pieces in her collection. She wore this coral, diamond and gold brooch in a 1965 portrait of her family at the Reagans’ California ranch, seen above. Coral is well represented in the former First Lady’s collection and she collected various shades, from pink-suffused angel skin coral to the deep red variety seen here.
The red coral accents on this brooch by Ruser recall Mrs. Reagan’s signature ‘red’ that carried through much of her wardrobe and accessories. One of President Reagan’s earliest gifts to his wife was from William Ruser: a gold key necklace to congratulate her on getting her own dressing room at MGM.
President and Mrs. Reagan spent much of their free time at their beloved Ranch House near Santa Barbara, Rancho del Cielo. The First Lady adapted her style to reflect life on the Santa Ynez mountain range, incorporating silver jewellery such as this beloved Navajo concho belt.
Where would a First Lady be without her pearls? Mrs. Reagan wore hers often and wore them well. She had a variety of pearl necklaces, and this one is a classic graduated single-strand. Pearls are among the oldest and most universal of gems, worn by royalty and nobility throughout history, and desired not only for their rarity but also for their whiteness — a symbol of purity.
The Chanel flap bag was designed with the modern woman in mind, an ideal exemplified by Mrs. Reagan throughout her lifetime as an actress, First Lady and active political figure during her post-presidential life. Mrs. Reagan’s outfits were incomplete without the perfect accessory, such as these iconic Chanel flap bags, which she often carried with her.