Politics

Pin Numbers To D.C.’s movers and shakers, Ann Hand is both friend and faux

  • The Delta Shuttle Sheet
  • -
  • January, 2001

by Karen Feld

You can spot the movers and shakers Inauguration Week; they’ll likely be wearing Ann Hand jewelry designs. A Hand creation, whether real or costume, is a sure-fire way to say power and panache. The stylish Texan, who in her teens gave up a career as an opera singer to marry attorney Lloyd Hand, says, “I never dreamed of a career as a jewelry designer. It was an accident.” The couple moved to Washington when President Lyndon Johnson asked Lloyd Hand to be his chief of protocol.

After their children were grown, Ann took a few courses in jewelry design. She first set up shop in the laundry room in the basement of her northwest D.C. home a dozen years ago, but quickly outgrew the space and moved instead to a landscaped and secluded cottage in back of her home. The Ann Hand Collection is just minutes from the White House.

Not only does Hand exude charm, she is a beacon of style. Her collection is viewed by appointment only, and each customer gets the personal touch of either Ann or her daughter Susan. You’ll see Hillary Clinton, Tipper Gore, Laura Bush, Madeleine Albright, Cabinet wives, diplomats, Mrs. Anwar Sadat, CEOs and entertainers-Ann-Margret, Nancy Sinatra, Mary Hart, Phyllis George and Kevin Costner-wearing Hand’s custom jewelry. Tipper Gore frequently wears Ann’s pearl necklace inspired by the movie Tin Cup. Although Laura Bush doesn’t wear much jewelry, she and Hillary Clinton have one thing in common: Both wear Ann Hand’s Liberty pin of an eagle perched on a pearl. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright wears this patriotic piece as well. In this political capital, Ann prides herself on being nonpartisan.

The Ann Hand Collection in Washington, D.C., may be visited by appointment only. Call 202-333-2979, or shop online at www.annhand.com.

Now Hand’s American Symbol collection is popular throughout the country, but it was Colleen Nunn, wife of former Sen. Sam Nunn, who gave Hand her first commission: a “Freedom” pin, to commemorate the return of the statue Freedom atop the Capitol dome after it had been removed for cleaning. Hand also made a Texas star, which Barbara Bush wore at campaign appearances. Custom designs-from cufflinks to earrings-are generally cast in sterling silver plated in 18-karat gold. Other commemorative Hand designs include a Ritz-Carlton pin for the opening of the D.C. hotel, pins for the spouses of U.S. Marines and of members of the U.S. House of Representatives, and a pin for the American Red Cross. She’s planning to unveil pins for Gen. Colin Powell’s America’s Promise and for the U.S. Air Force.

Who does Hand prefer in the White House? She won’t say, but comments, “Republicans spend more money than Democrats.” She recalls that before the Reagan inauguration, one of the “kitchen cabinet” wives left her pearl and diamond necklace at home. She rushed over to Hand, bought a costume one and, when her friends complimented her on it, never gave away her secret. But when it comes to jewelry, Democrats aren’t slouches either. During the second Clinton inauguration, “I felt like Cinderella working late getting custom pieces ready,” says Hand.

— KAREN FELD

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