‘Wait, Those Are My Earrings’ on Michelle Obama

By Lisbeth Levine

Published February 27, 2009.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Having her jewelry in the limelight is nothing new for designer Loree Rodkin. But having it in the Smithsonian Institution is an entirely different matter.

Rodkin, a former Hollywood talent manager who turned her jewelry-making hobby into a full-fledged business in 1989, found a fan base among the likes of Cher, Steven Tyler and Madonna. By applying a Gothic sensibility to precious metals and stones, and incorporating skulls and crossbones, fleurs-de-lees and crosses into her designs, Rodkin became something of the bad girl of the fine-jewelry world.

Chandelier Style: Michelle Obama, wearing Loree Rodkin earrings on election night.
Getty Images
Chandelier Style: Michelle Obama, wearing Loree Rodkin earrings on election night.

Even she admits that she’s an unlikely choice to be the designer behind the 60-carat diamond chandelier earrings, the 10-carat diamond ring and the diamond bangle bracelets that first lady Michelle Obama wore to the inaugural balls. The pieces were loaned to President Obama’s wife for the occasion, and Rodkin will donate them to the Smithsonian to become part of the permanent collection.

According to the designer, it was Chicago retailer Ikram Goldman who made the match between the first lady and Rodkin. Goldman had asked Rodkin to submit pieces for consideration. The first lady had previously worn Rodkin’s jewelry on other occasions, most notably on election night. “You can’t dream that large, honestly,” Rodkin said. “This is Cinderella goes to the ball, and I’m Cinderella.”

Rodkin will not comment on the value of the jewels worn by Michelle Obama, but her jewelry line — sold at select Neiman Marcus stores and at boutiques across the country — is priced from $5,000 to $300,000. Rodkin remembers watching election night coverage on television with friends. When she saw Michelle Obama, her first reaction was that someone had knocked off her earrings. “Then there was a close-up of her,” Rodkin said, “and I said: ‘Wait, those are my earrings! What are they doing on the [soon-to-be] first lady?”

Rodkin, who turns 60 this year, grew up in Chicago and Skokie and was raised by her mother and stepfather, June and Morton Deutsch. She left the Midwest to go to New York and attend film school at The New School for Social Research. She then moved to Los Angeles with rocker Don Henley. As a talent manager, she worked with such actors as Robert Downey Jr., Brad Pitt and Sarah Jessica Parker.

Rodkin began selling her jewelry to the Los Angeles boutique Maxfield, and her work got such a strong reception that she decided to focus on her jewelry full time.

Some of her best-known designs are crosses, but this doesn’t always sit so well with her mother, who reminds her, “Dear, you know we are Jewish.” To Rodkin, however, “it’s about the architecture. It has nothing to do with the symbolism.” She’s also incorporated Buddhas into her work, because she finds herself drawn to “the tranquil serenity of the religious icons.”

So where are the Stars of David in her line? Rodkin has made them in the past, “but the truth is, they didn’t sell very well.”

As for whether we can expect to see the first lady adorned in more of her jewelry, Rodkin said, somewhat mysteriously, “You never know.”


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Sigal Samuel's family amulet isn't just rumored to have magical powers. It's also a symbol of how Jewish and Indian rituals became intertwined over the centuries. http://jd.fo/a3BvD Only three days left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • British Jews are having their 'Open Hillel' moment. Do you think Israel advocacy on campus runs the risk of excluding some Jewish students?
  • "What I didn’t realize before my trip was that I would leave Uganda with a powerful mandate on my shoulders — almost as if I had personally left Egypt."
  • Is it better to have a young, fresh rabbi, or a rabbi who stays with the same congregation for a long time? What do you think?
  • Why does the leader of Israel's social protest movement now work in a beauty parlor instead of the Knesset?
  • What's it like to be Chagall's granddaughter?
  • Is pot kosher for Passover. The rabbis say no, especially for Ashkenazi Jews. And it doesn't matter if its the unofficial Pot Day of April 20.
  • A Ukrainian rabbi says he thinks the leaflets ordering Jews in restive Donetsk to 'register' were a hoax. But the disturbing story still won't die.
  • Some snacks to help you get through the second half of Passover.
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.