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MADELINE ALBRIGHT, United States Secretary of State under President Bill Clinton, had a huge and remarkable collection of brooches that she often wore in a unique manner.  As explained in her delightful and offbeat illustrated memoir, Read My Pins, the Secretary often let her brooches do the talking for her. 


For a meeting with Nelson Mandela, she wore a brooch with vibrant zebras on it, and to mourn the victims of a downed plane, she wore a bluebird pin.  After a loyal follower of Saddam Hussein called her a “serpent,” she wore a bejeweled snake pin – “a masterpiece of elegant defiance,” as one major magazine called it.


YOU CAN CREATE the same fascinating collection of “talking” pins to fit your personality and activities, and you can show your customers how to do it, too.  It gives a whole new dimension to collecting, and can often express a sensitivity and alertness to others that might otherwise go unnoticed or unexpressed.  Once your friends and relatives get used to your pins, they’ll be on the lookout for them and their meanings.   



  • Chrysanthemum crystal brooch. This beautiful flower symbolizes optimism and joy.  It is November’s birth flower and, in Japan, it is celebrated by an annual “Festival of Happiness.”




  • Artistic crystal heart broochHearts represent true love.  Ancient meanings attribute the heart as the keeper of the soul and the passions of the body. 


                              Serpents:  Spiritual and Slithery


SNAKES ARE A CLASSIC subject for brooches, and are especially popular right now. “Oh,” you might say, “they are frightening and negative.”  — Oh, no, not necessarily.  Snakes in Eastern philosophies represent spiritual energy and often are seen to have a divine-like quality. 

    –Of course, they’ll only speak this positive language to a particularly sophisticated audience, so choose whom you wear them with.  Needless to say, you can play the Albright game with serpents, too.  Wear them with people who are otherwise nasty to you.  Guaranteed you won’t be seen as a push-over!


Lovebirds make a charming brooch subject to wear to engagement parties and weddings.  Birds fly high, into the heavens, and have deep spiritual meaning for many people.  Dolphins are remarkably happy animals, frolicking all day, rarely showing off their surprisingly high level of intelligence.  A dolphin pin is wonderful to wear at any educational event.  It is also an ideal gift for the graduate!


                                           Getting Buggy


Insects represent a world unto themselves.  Think about spiders.  What do they mean to you?  Or bumble bees?  Or dragonflies?  Butterflies are beautiful. Fireflies bring light to the darkness. And little ladybugs have long represented good luck wherever they appear.


It goes without saying that, in athletics, you can wear pins to express your team preference. You can also wear special school pins.  Or pins for fraternal organizations or sororities. Elephants and donkeys talk out loud during political campaigns.  Come March, pins for St. Patrick’s Day make an appearance.  Christmas pins are a major accessory. Since 9/11, many men have worn flag lapel pins to express their national loyalty.


KIDS WHO ARE IN A GOTHIC “I’m a scary person” mode might want to wear a skull and crossbones pin.  Christians often wear pins with crosses on them.  Young children will delight in almost any Disney pin. Medical doctors frequently wear caduceus pins (two serpents entwined on a short staff, in the form of a double helix, often surmounted by wings). Special “chaplain” pins have long been worn by military clerics.



  • Horse head and horseshoe brooch.  What a fun way to express good luck!




  • Light green crystal brooch in mum motif.  Here we are back, again, at the enormously popular “earth-child” theme.  Going green is a gift to everyone on the planet!


                                           The Color Wheel


BUT…GETTING BACK TO YOU, PERSONALLY.   Pins and brooches are fun to wear, especially when they’ve been empowered by special or unexpected meaning.  One way of attaching new significance to pins is through color. 


Pins with strong green stones often represent the “green” movement – the new drive toward healthier, more natural living. Using recyclable products, avoiding unnatural chemicals, being kind to the earth and all its creatures are just a few of the meanings expressed with such pins. 


Red is fiery, intense.  Until diamonds took over the market, rubies were the major gemstone in many engagement rings!  Wear a red pin to indicate your total involvement in an issue or cause.  Right now, red is an important color of the American Heart Association.


Yellow is a happy color. Brooches with yellow stones express lightness, youthfulness, playfulness.  No wonder this is a fabulous color for summer, when the golden sun is at its strongest!  Yellow circle pins are loving and complete.  Wear one anywhere in the world, and your message will get through!


Blue is always loyal, faithful, home-loving.  It has an eternal quality.  It is wonderful for family reunions and religious ceremonies.  Paired with gold, it expresses timelessness, as in the glorious artifacts of Tutankhamen.  Blue is also global.  It is the perfect color for international brotherhood. 


Pink is, of course, the color used for breast cancer awareness campaigns.  In this regard, it is sympathetic, supportive, compassionate.  It is also empowering, especially for those victims of the disease who have become survivors. Wear it proudly!       

     — Used for little girls, pink is a sweet, loving, motherly color. It is charming in pins for children, and in gemstone brooches for new mothers and grandmothers.  In any case, this is an intensely meaningful color, gentle and yet strong, perfect for almost any woman’s or girl’s pin

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Sunday, October 4th, 2009

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