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Pearls in Politics

At some point, I can’t recall the exact moment, my focus during this election shifted away from poll numbers and predictions, to pearls. If you know me, you’re not at all surprised by this. I’m easily distracted by shiny objects, especially jewelry. Can you blame me? Pearls are timeless, classic and versatile, and I believe there’s a style of pearl jewelry for everyone.

Conservative or liberal, classic or edgy, you can find a pearl that matches your style and personality. Are you into the meaning of the pearls? Then high five Sister, because pearls symbolize incorruptibility, grit, and purity, all timely and relevant themes for women and young girls. Or, maybe you’re simply in love with the elegance and classic beauty of pearls. One thing is undeniable though, pearls have been a popular choice for many women in politics and the public eye.


Kamala Harris’ fondness for pearls goes all the way back to her college days, at Howard University, where she was a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA) sorority. Each new member of the sorority was given a special badge, decorated with 20-pearls, to honor their founding members, known as “Twenty Pearls”. Today, Vice President-elect Harris, leans towards a more modern pearl necklace, which suits her unique style.

In a recent article in Vanity Fair magazine, Glenda Glover, president of AKA, said, “Pearls represent refinement and wisdom. We train young ladies to be leaders and to make sure they have the wisdom to lead.” How appropriate for our future VP.


One could argue that Stacey Abrams, former Georgia State House Democratic leader, has been dressing for the win all along. She recently joined CNN’s Jake Tapper on The State of the Union, wearing a single, beautiful strand of thumbnail pearls, stating that minority women “can be the leaders.” And her election-night blue dress, hinted at victory, not simply because of the color, but because she appeared comfortable, and confident.  

Over the years, Michelle Obama has shown us both sides of the pearl flippers coin. When appropriate, she chose a more traditional, 2-strand style, a la Jackie Kennedy. But as we’ve witnessed, the former first lady was not shy about showing her own style, and often wore colored pearls with a dozen or more strands, clustered beautifully at her neckline.


Amy Coney Barrett, leans toward a more grandmother-esque single-strand. Is this simply her style preference? Perhaps, and that’s okay. Or, knowing full well how brutal the paparazzi and style critics can be, maybe her choice to go conservative is about more than just her morals, but also about dangling less bait for scrutiny and fodder by the media.


Here’s the good news. We’ve protected our right to freedom of choice. In a year with unprecedented political turmoil, polarization and patriotic upheaval, we can all rest easy knowing that we don’t have to take sides when it comes to our personal style. Funky and progressive or classic and conservative, the choice will always be ours, and no one can take that away. We can even change our minds tomorrow, or the next day, if we so choose, and it doesn’t get any better than that. Pearls for the WIN my friends!

Exercise your right to choose. SHOP my Pearl Girl Collection for a piece to represent your own unique style!

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Mid-Summer Check-in

How are you feeling? I gotta be honest, I’m struggling a little. All of my art shows for the summer have been canceled, and I don’t expect I’ll be doing any shows for the rest of 2020. When my shows were initially canceled, I thought the greatest impact would be financial, but a few months into this pandemic, I’m seeing a deeper, emotional effect. I never fully realized how much I enjoyed, and needed, the social interaction at these shows.

I miss chatting, playing and trying on jewelry with you. I miss helping you find the perfect piece, for that outfit. I miss laughing and joking. I miss the budding and lasting friendships. I miss our hugs. If we met before at another show, I can promise I’d give you a ginormous hug when you visit my booth again. But all of this is gone.

I’m feeling sad, lonely and disconnected. I miss people and I miss our personal connection. While I’ve been home, not on the road traveling to shows, I’ve been thinking of you and wondering how you’re doing? What have you been doing to satisfy that need for connection and socializing?

In-person shows are not in the cards right now. But I still NEED to be social, so I’m doing a few other things to satisfy my social butterfly itch…


 Two unique pieces shipping off in a JewelBox!

  • My JewelBoxes are a great way to get yummy jewelry, AND your social fix at the same time. We get together via Zoom, and chat about what you need or what outfit/blouse you’re trying to accessorize. I pull out the pieces I think might work for you, and together we decide what to ship in YOUR personalized JewelBox. When you receive it, try everything on, keep what you like and send the rest back, shipping on me. Easy peasy! It’s a super fun way to connect and to bring you all the funky, chunky and fabulously hip style you crave. 
  • We’re also doing Zoom styling sessions. You try on different outfits, and mix and match with various pieces of jewelry. Think of it like a shopping date with your BFF, where you take a bunch of pieces into the dressing room, while your girlfriend gives you constructive and honest feedback. Or maybe busts out laughing. It’s just like that except in your own home, your own clothes and your Bobbi Kahn Jewelry faves.
  • On a more personal note, I still get dressed and put on makeup for my Zoom calls with clients. While it’s tempting to stay in sweats all day, this is an important part of feeling normal, for me. I also try on all of my newly finished pieces, to see how they lay and fit. PJs and a naked face are not good backdrops for my jewelry. 

Maybe you’re feeling disconnected like me, or maybe you’ve adapted and are enjoying the new world order. Or maybe a little of both? Either way, I’d love to invite you to join me for a personal styling session, or to customize your JewelBox. Give it a try! It’s a no-risk way to shop, socialize and have some fun! Connect with me HERE to book your session.

Here’s a little sneak peek at a recent JewelBox experience, LIVE on Facebook!

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Heidi and Liz's Epic Heirloom Update!

“We met at OOAK Chicago,” Heidi recalled, “and I never forgot you!”

Wow, how often do you hear that? But I remembered Heidi too, and that’s what I love most about live events, meeting amazing, smart and beautiful women, like Heidi. It reminds me of the good side of humanity.

Several months after OOAK Chicago, Heidi invited me to be a vendor at her event, Fashion Matters Chicago. This year’s theme was Jackie Kennedy, with an emphasis on pearls. Heidi remembered my exotic statement necklaces and the Pearl Girl Collection on my website. She thought my jewelry would be a great fit for the event, and asked me to focus on the theme…pearls.

Fashion Matters Chicago, is an event that helps women enhance their dignity and beauty, through fashion choices.  It was an amazing day and event. I met some incredible women, including Heidi’s daughter Liz, who is a rep with Rodin & Fields Skincare. She’s also a marketing consultant and screenwriter. Busy lady! When we weren’t chatting with customers, Liz and I spent the day laughing, sharing experiences and stories. She is just as lovely as her mom Heidi.

Later, after seeing my pearl collection, Heidi was reminded of a strand of pearls that had belonged to her mother. It was sadly tucked away in her jewelry box, gathering dust. Her wheels began turning, as she imagined the possibilities for those forgotten pearls. This was the start to our epic, heirloom update.

When Liz got wind of the collaboration, she remembered me from the event, and wanted to join the fun too.

In addition to the pearls, Heidi had many other pieces that once belonged to her mom, including a simple strand of jade. Suddenly Liz was wishing for a redesigned piece for herself, and Heidi was thrilled that her daughter wanted something to remember her grandmother by. “Pearls are more for my generation” Heidi said. The jade seemed more appropriate for the younger generation like Liz’s.

Several beautiful pieces came out of this redesign

Heidi’s double strand of Keshi pearls came from a single long strand she had purchased long ago on vacation. A once very plain necklace, stuck in a drawer, now has a whole new life. The resulting double-strand necklace is elegantly fresh with a modern twist.

For Liz, we used the single strand of jade to create a shorter necklace (more to her liking), with a beautiful sterling silver focal piece. I added a sterling silver toggle clasp in the back, that’s pretty enough to wear in front. It’s like 2 necklaces in one! There were enough jade pieces to make 2-pairs of earrings, one for Liz, and a 2nd pair for her sister Mary. They will share the necklace, and along with the earrings, keep their grandmother’s memory close at heart.

Liz recently recollected that her grandmother had a lot of Asian art, and the jade stone is a beautiful reminder of her grandmother’s art collection. An unexpected sentiment.

Throughout the process, I’d jump on a Zoom call with Heidi and Liz, to get their input on the design process. This is not only important to the outcome, but it’s really fun too! 

This drawer, full of forgotten, unworn jewelry, gave birth to more heirloom updates

Liz recalled that her mom periodically would pull out all of her grandmother’s jewelry, and they’d all sit around and look at it, marveling at its beauty. Then she’d put it right back in the drawer, where it stayed until next time. Recently, Heidi got tired of it all just sitting there. “It’s time to give them new life, and let everyone feel a connection to the past."

Heidi had a gold charm bearing her high school crest that her mom had bought her. It hung from a plain gold chain, and Heidi had not worn it since she was a teenager. Using pearls from a strand that belonged to Heidi’s mom, I added some gold elements, alternating with the pearls, creating an entirely new look to compliment the gold charm. Heidi loves it so much, she’s planning to wear it to her 50th high school reunion this year.

Using the same strand of pearls, I designed a modern, classy, double-strand, featuring a sterling silver “chex mix” embellishment, and also a statement necklace, with pearls and black onyx beads. Heidi has already selected outfits to wear with her stunning new pieces.


There’s a certain level of trust involved in an heirloom update

I don’t take this lightly. After all, you are handing over pieces with deep sentimental value, otherwise why would you still have them? Often, I wonder if people are nervous about trusting me with their jewelry, even though it’s just sitting in a drawer. It might feel scary to let me take it apart and alter it. I understand, which is why I take the utmost care, treating your pieces as if they belonged to my own mom or grandmother. Heidi wasn’t worried, “I’m a good judge of character” she said, “and I trusted Barb with my pieces”.

At a time when many of us are still sheltering in place, we’re cleaning, fixing, doing home improvements, and looking for ways to be productive, creative and useful. This is THE perfect time to do an heirloom update. What hidden treasures do you have? Go right now and open that drawer, pull out those pieces, and contact me today so we can bring them back to life.

Watch the LIVE interview with Heidi and Liz...

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JewelBox: The next best thing to being there!

JewelBox: The next best thing to being there!

I miss seeing you sooooooo much. It’s been WAY too long. Not too long ago, we took even the simplest things for granted, like hugs, family dinners, going to the movies and shopping with our besties. Like me, maybe you’ve made a promise to yourself to appreciate all of these things even more, once we’re ‘free’ to go back to life as normal. I have a hunch ‘normal’ as we once knew it will be changed forever. I’m a pretty gracious person, and I know how blessed I am to have so many loving relationships and abundance in my life. But I took some of that for granted, especially the social connections. Going forward I promise to be more appreciative and respectful of those freedoms and blessings.

Like many artists and jewelry designers, my business model was built on traveling the country, to share my work at the finest festivals and art shows. I’ve been blessed to have met so many of my amazing customers and collectors at many of these live events. And as a collector, you know there is no substitute for seeing a piece in real life… holding it in your hands, experiencing the tactile, dimensional qualities of a piece of jewelry. There is nothing exactly like that experience. No matter how crisp and clean my photos are, or how many adjectives I use to describe a piece on my website, that in-person experience is special. It’s everything really.

Meeting you face-to-face, answering your questions about the piece or where the materials came from...this is not just business, this is how lifelong friendships are born, and relationships are formed. We’re all missing this right now. Trying on a necklace, looking in the mirror and asking your girlfriend, spouse, or me “how does this look?”. There is no replacement for this personal interaction. We need this right now, and I realize this. And while I cannot come to you in person just yet, I may have the next best thing. It’s called the JewelBox.

Here’s how it works…

1. Pour a fave beverage

2. shop online and check out

3. return anything you don't want for FREE!

Or, skip the ambiance, and head straight to my shop. Scroll through the collections, and grab anything that catches your eye or piques your interest. If you think you might love it, but maybe you want to try it on first? Just grab it and drop it in your cart. Not sure if that necklace goes with your new blouse? No worries…add it to your cart. Don’t hesitate. Don’t worry or question yourself. Just drop it in your cart and complete your purchase.

In just a few short days, you’ll receive your JewelBox, with everything you ordered, ready to try on in the comfort of your own home. Included in your box you’ll find a little surprise ‘thank you’ gift, and paid return shipping label.

Now, are you craving some fun, shopping time with your besties? Invite them to a Zoom or FaceTime call, pour a glass of champagne and try on your pieces for them. Put on your favorite lipstick and imagine your girls are standing next to you at an art show, or at Nordstrom. Try on each piece and let them help you decide what to keep and what to return.

Or, just shop solo if that’s your jam. Whatever works for you, either way, take your time. Try on the pieces with different outfits, in different lighting, hair up or hair down. Shop (from home) ‘til you drop, and return anything you don’t love… shipping on me.

Okay, are you ready for some retail therapy? Head on over to my shop now to get started building your JewelBox and then schedule a ‘date’ with your friends today!

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Take the Heirloom Update Challenge: Peek Inside Your Jewelry Box Today

It’s hard to know what to feel or how to behave lately. We’re living in very uncertain times, navigating uncharted territory. It feels surreal, as if we just stepped into a new Netflix sci-fi or dystopian binge-worthy series. At times, it’s just plain scary. Maybe I’m exaggerating just a bit. But not by much.

For me, my “day-to-day” schedule is not vastly different. I’m still designing and making fabulous new pieces of jewelry, and still working with many of you on custom orders. For now, my Spring shows are cancelled or postponed, so I’m using technology to keep things afloat. How about you? What are you doing while social distancing and staying home? Are you teleworking?  Are you cooking up a storm in the kitchen? Checking out the latest online streaming yoga workout? Are you taking walks around your neighborhood? Chatting with your loved ones via Skype? I’m going to go out on a limb and say that even in the scariest of times (like right now), most of us are very fortunate to have what we have, and to be able to shelter in place. Truly, it could be worse.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s become very introspective, trying to make sense of things. There’s something about a world crisis that brings our communities closer, and makes the world a little smaller. A lot of people are wanting to give back in some way, to share their talents or resources to help someone in need. To find a silver lining when we struggle to see the way ahead.

Because I’m a jewelry designer, I love to give back in ways that are in line with my talents and core values. I often donate a piece of jewelry for a benefit or host a trunk show to raise funds for a good cause. So, this brings me to ask you something. If you could, right now, raise money for a good cause, while honoring a loved one AND do some Spring cleaning at the same time, would you?

If you answered “yes”, then I challenge you to take the next steps…

While you’re stuck at home, take a look inside your jewelry box. What do you have that you’re not wearing? Maybe it’s a piece you inherited from your mom or grandma. Maybe your great aunt left you a string of pearls. Imagine if you could update those pieces and reassemble them into a beautifully refreshed collection, in memory of a loved one. Would you? Or, maybe raise money for a charity near and dear to your heart? You CAN do this! We can do this together. Right now!

So, how does this work? Easy. Here’s an example of a recent heirloom redesign...

Gay Leffel had a love of travel, collecting art and jewelry from all over the world.  When she passed, her dear friend Abby inherited some of the jewelry that Gay collected on her travels. But Abby’s style was different than Gay’s. Sadly, she knew she’d probably never wear her dear friend’s jewelry. But she didn’t want to just give the pieces away. Instead, Abby chose to honor her friend’s memory while also benefitting a charity that Gay supported. The result is a collection of beautifully redesigned pieces, called the Gay Leffel Lincoln Park Zoo Collection. 25% of the proceeds from each piece, go to benefit the Lincoln Park Zoo.

"Prayerful Peace" from the Gay Leffel Lincoln Park Zoo Collection


Here’s another example…

On my workbench, right now I’m designing and making pieces for the Diane Kessler American Cancer Society Collection. Diane was a lifelong volunteer and activist for those causes that enriched the lives of women, families and children. She died in 2019 from Cancer. I’m working with Diane’s daughter on an heirloom update that Diane would be proud of. A portion of the proceeds from sales from this collection will be donated to the American Cancer Society in her memory.

Ok. Now that I’ve planted the seed, go take a peek inside your jewelry box. What do you see that you’re not wearing and probably will never wear? I thought so. Take some time and sit with these pieces. Deciding to part with them might feel a little difficult at first. But then, try to imagine a whole new life for them, while also doing something good for your community. How does that feel? When you’re ready, give me a buzz HERE. Together we’ll design an heirloom update, and give those pieces new meaning and purpose.

buffalo horn polymer clay heirloom update

"Wonderful, Whimsical Polymer Clay" from the Diane Kessler American Cancer Society Collection

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Pearls. A Timeless American Treasure. Just Ask Jackie!

Pearls. They are classic and timeless. Just ask Jackie! Better yet, join me at Fashion Matters Chicago, Saturday March 7, for: Timeless Style from Jackie - An American Treasure. Fashion Matters Chicago was founded in 2014, to study the relationship between culture and fashion to promote the dignity of women through fashion.

“We want every woman to have a proud understanding and

humble pride of the innate dignity she possesses…”

I’ll be there showcasing my newest pearl pieces, along with my popular Pearl Girl Collection. In support of the Fashion Matters mission, and inspired by Jackie Kennedy Onassis’ signature 2-strand pearl necklace, I’ve designed a modern and slightly updated version of the old classic, and it’s going to be raffled off at the event! You can grab your tickets HERE!


Without question, pearls are very versatile and quite frankly, the Jackie-esque double-strand never goes out of style. But what style exactly? Is it enough to just play it safe and throw on your best “real” or even imitation strand of pearls? I mean, it does go with pretty much anything. And while some people prefer pearls only in the warmer months, to pair with lighter colors, you really can wear them any time of year. And so, I struggle with the notion that pearls have to be conservative and serious. Do they really? Can’t you take a classic beauty and redefine it to fit your own unique style?

You know me, and I think I know you. Us Bobbi-Kahners are all about “funky, chunky and fabulously hip” jewelry. Fantastic, amazing women who are not shy about expressing themselves. Women who prefer to shine with their own unique style rather than camouflage into the masses. Do YOUR pearls represent YOU and your inner beauty?

I’m willing to bet you have a strand of pearls sitting in your jewelry box right now, gathering dust. Maybe they were a gift, or maybe you inherited them from your mom or grandmother. Maybe once in a while, you pull them out, thinking they might be the perfect accessory to go with that flirty sundress or silky sweater, only to think “bleh” and put them back into dark solitude. Too sentimental to toss, not “you” enough to wear. Guess what my friends, you’re not alone, and there’s a solution to satisfy your objections... it’s called an Heirloom Update!

More and more of my clients are coming to me with their strand of pearls, and together we’re redesigning the beautiful (but plain) strand into one or more pieces that are fresh, updated and something that will actually see the light of day rather than be tucked away in a box. Are you with me?

Imagine turning a single strand of pearls into one or more pieces you’ll love wearing every day, and that represent your own personality and style? Together you and I will design something amazing, and fabulous. We’ll give new life to that heirloom, and it will have even more meaning. Here are a few recent redesigns to get your creative juices flowing.

Before                                                                              After











Are you ready to start your Heirloom Redesign? You can reach me HERE to start the conversation, or better yet, come see me on Saturday, March 7, at Fashion Matters Chicago, and we can chat face-to-face! Would love to meet you there! Continue reading

A Feast for the Eyes and Fire for the Soul: Peek Inside the Tucson Gem Show

A Feast for the Eyes and Fire for the Soul: Peek Inside the Tucson Gem Show

Close your eyes. I want to take you on a journey with me…

Imagine a giant tent, the size of a football stadium, filled with something you love. It could be fabric, flowers, candy, or in my case, beads! There are rows, and rows of vendors with long tables and displays, completely covered with strands of beads. Every imaginable color, size, texture and shape. Shiny beads, rough beads, smooth beads and matte. Bone, stone, crystal and metal. Imagine a visual feast like you’ve never seen. Imagine shopping without a preconceived notion of what you’re going to buy, just an open mind and open heart. And when you find that thing that takes your breath away, you say “yes, I’ll take that”. This is the Tucson Gem Show.

What I’ve described is one venue, a mere slice of the many slices that comprise the Tucson Gem show. There are dozens of similar venues throughout the Tucson area during gem show week. Jewelry designers, collectors and shop owners wait all year to attend what is now known simply as “Tucson” amongst regular attendees. Many people, myself included, try to restock an entire year’s worth of materials and supplies at Tucson.

Specifically, I go knowing I need to secure a few customer favorites like, water buffalo horn and recycled record beads. Those are my staples, most of which are already allocated to existing designs. But every year, I’m also searching for something else. For what? Well, that’s the thing. I don’t have a clue, and won’t know until I see it. That special material, or color, or texture that makes me go “wow, I need that”. Even then, I don’t know for sure what I’ll design or make, but I know those beads will speak to me once we’re back home in the studio, just me and them.

This year, in addition to my regular items, I also picked up some gorgeous copper-dyed keshi pearls, turquoise and red turquoise, rose quartz, flower blossom agate, porcelain raku beads, rough cut lapis, coral, shell and wood beads. Whew! My creative wheels are already turning!

Imagine being totally immersed in a visual sensation that literally leaves you speechless, and exhausted. This is the Tucson experience. And yet, my creative brain is on fire and I can hardly wait to get back to my studio to start creating incredible new pieces for you. Let the magic begin!


 blue red yellow beads

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On Manifesting Joy Right Now

I’m not gonna lie. It’s easy to get caught up in the New Year’s Resolution frenzy. I mean, you almost feel like a slug if you’re not trying to weigh less, workout more, worry less or read more. Right? But what is wrong with resolving to love yourself, and your life, right this minute? Hear me out. Whether by upbringing, or societal pressures, we’re bombarded with messages that tell us our lives will be perfect when [fill in the blank]. We're constantly being told the thingamajig we’ve been missing is the key to our future contentment and happiness. Or, we’re encouraged to climb the corporate ladder, or change careers, because then, for sure we’ll be happy. Yet somehow, even when we buy that thingamajig, or get that jobamabob, we’re sated for a minute and then on to the next thing. It’s like a drug… always seeking that next high, and always needing more to get there.

This year, my dear friend invited me to join her in the 21-day Manifesting Challenge. If you received my New Year’s message, you know I committed to live more joyfully. Right NOW. When Michelle brought this manifesting challenge to my attention, I took it as a sign that it would help me with my “joyful 2020” commitment. One of the challenge days had us write a list of all the things we love, right now, about our lives. My list went like this:

1. Herb (my hubby)

2. Making jewelry

3. My dogs

4. A great book

5. An awesome view

6. Being with people I like

7. Having plenty of money

8. Great dance

9. Awesome music

10. Pretty restaurants

11. Nice home and personal space

12. Working out

13. Belonging-Friends

14. Working from home

Suddenly my mind shifted. I got to thinking. Why would I long for something more than what I already have, which clearly is pretty effing amazing, I might add. What could I possibly put on my New Year’s resolution list that could manifest more joy, or make me more content than I am right now?

Lately I’ve heard too many times “when I retire I’m going to [fill in the blank]”. I’m not judging, trust me. I’ve done it too. Sadly, I’ve also heard from too many friends lately that cancer or illness has taken a life way too soon, before they got to that retirement. The phrase “tomorrow is not promised” has never felt more real than right now. I guess you can chalk it up to middle age. Should we live in fear of getting sick? Umm… heck no. That’s not what I’m suggesting. But maybe, while still being responsible, we should practice loving our lives today. Sit quietly with your thoughts for a few minutes, and remember a time when you wished for the very thing or status you have right now. Stay in that moment. Enjoy it. Be thankful and gracious. Love your life, right now.

Manifest that my friends.

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