The Jewelry Information Center tonight held its eighth annual GEM Awards gala and honored Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Dr. Albright made history in 1997, when she became the highest ranking woman in the U.S. government, as the first female Secretary of State. However, what many individuals may not know about her, who took tonight's stage to a standing ovation, is that she used jewelry as a diplomatic tool during her years with the Clinton administration. In a riveting speech and introduction to her new book, Read My Pins: Stories from a Diplomat’s Jewel Box, she stated "This all started when I was ambassador at the U.N. and Saddam Hussein called me a serpent.... and I had this wonderful antique snake pin. So when we were dealing with Iraq, I wore the snake pin." After that incident, she decided it would be fun to speak through her pins and continued to seek different pins to commemorate a particular event or to signal how she felt. Balloons, butterflies, and flowers signified optimism and when diplomatic talks were going slowly, crabs and turtles indicated frustration. The book examines the expressive power of jewelry and its ability to communicate through a style and language of its own.
Each year, GEM Awards brings together powerful leaders in a the jewelry industry, politics and entertainment to recognize the individuals and companies whose work raises the visibility and status of fine jewelry. Notable guests that night also included Lindsay Price from the Lipstick Jungle and Eastwick and Russell Simmons the pioneer of hip-hop label Def Jam and the fashion line Phat Farm.