Not much rivals the beauty of a warm October day in the middle of Kentucky horse country. The last rich greens of the season, contrasting with the miles of painted fences, the stone walls lining the country lanes, the horses content in their fields.
I was headed to the Headley-Whitney Museum, a jewel museum and library, just outside Lexington. There were 3 reasons for my visit today, to see George Headley’s bibelots and jewels, to look at his jewelry drawings, and I had made an appointment to use his private library. I have always found such secrets and treasures in books. What were the books that inspired George and what could they teach me?
It was a number of years since my last visit. I remember being fascinated by the small sculptures at the museum, and seeing my first tanzanite in his gem collection. I was in love… I think it was 45 Ct. and it was definitely the most exquisite color of a midnight blue sky. And the sculptures- a little gold castles with baguette diamonds for the turreted windows, the enameled and diamond studded gold parachute sculpture, and the tiny exquisite mosaic collection. I was in absolute heaven.
So back to today, in addition to pouring through so many books I simply could not take in another awesome image…. I got to learn a bit more about George and his jewels and his life. From his start as an apprentice designer with New York Jeweler Paul Flato in the 1930s, to his own jewelry boutique in California at the Hotel Bel-Air, in the 1940’s with many of the Hollywood elite and their wives among his clientele, and his relocation to family property in Lexington. My favorite story does not include the big names. It was pure George- how he would adorn his Dauschaund with diamond jewelry and send him out around the pool at the Hotel Bel-Air to show off his jewels.
The magic continues in this haven outside Lexington, where George’s vision and passion came to life once again for me… through his books, his art, the “larger than life” stories of his life, and the buildings.
And speaking of buildings… George’s former residence next to the museum is for sale. Such possibilities… and you could not find a more beautiful spot.