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Beads, Baubles, and Bling: A Stuller Mardi Gras

Put on your Carnival best, and dive into the glitz and glamour of Louisiana’s most treasured holidays with a little inspiration from our talented designers.

When February holidays begin, you might think of Valentine’s Day as the one that gets all the love (literally), but in Louisiana, we’ve got something jazzier on our minds: Mardi Gras!

Coming to the Carnival season’s close on Tuesday, February 21, 2023, locals are gearing up for weekend festivities as a final hoorah. More a mindset than a holiday, the Mardi Gras season is a tradition like no other for Louisiana natives, and between the good company, great food, and best hospitality, it’s hard for us to choose our favorite part.

However, as we taste-test king cake flavors and dream up our parade outfits, we’re inclined to think of one extra special piece of Mardi Gras tradition that might be overlooked — of course, in true Stuller fashion, we’re thinking of jewelry and design.

Read on for a taste of Louisiana tradition as we dig into Mardi Gras history and enjoy inspiration from our product design team that’ll have you ready to plan your next trip to Lafayette or The Big Easy in no time.

Mardi Gras 101

Before we get into glimmering gems and coveted throws, we thought it’d be best to give a few facts on the mystical, showstopping holiday.

So, what is Mardi Gras?

Well, the first recorded, American Mardi Gras celebration is said to have started in 1699, in which French-Canadian explorer Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville initiated a gala to mark the newly discovered land just outside of present-day New Orleans. Despite its deep-rooted history in the Crescent City, however, the true New Orleans Mardi Gras celebration would not begin until nearly 19 years later.

Although famously known for its home in New Orleans, Louisiana, Mardi Gras season preludes the path to Lenten season around the world, being a large element of the Catholic faith. Breaking down the phrase, “Mardi” translates to, “Tuesday,” while “Gras” translates to, “fat” in the French language — together, you get Fat Tuesday! (Before you do a double take, yes, you read that correctly.) To signify the end of the season, Fat Tuesday is traditionally the largest and final celebration. 

If you’ve ever come down to southern Louisiana or experienced Carnival season elsewhere, you’re likely to envision a few key elements: bead-tossing, parade routes, and eye-catching costumes. While these are at the heart of Mardi Gras, the holiday season spans over a century, rich with cultural significance.

To many, Mardi Gras might seem vivacious, maybe even overindulgent — that’s the point! And, although Louisiana is known for its southern cooking, the holiday is about more than just food: Mardi Gras marks the celebration of life, grandeur, and sparkle in more ways than one. With that being said, let’s get into our favorite part.

"Throw Me Somethin'!"

Full of symbolism, the jewelry and adornment of the Carnival season has spanned over a century with the adoption of beads, doubloons, masks, and much, much more. From glimmering glass beads to costumes that feel larger than life, the holiday has always invited an air of royalty and individuality.

Reminiscent of its European roots, Mardi Gras crowns and tiaras provide kings and queens with a way to showcase their prestige, complete with dazzling gems. Similarly, the custom of bead-throwing quickly became a staple tradition with early versions being made with ornate, Czech glass (now made in plastic with an endless supply of shapes, sizes, and colors.) Just as our idea of jewelry today, Mardi Gras treasures and accessories find their place in history — trends come and go, but tradition stays true, and you’re sure to find a piece of French culture with every motif, gemstone, and colorful piece. 

Feeling inspired by the glamour as the season comes to a close, we reached out to our incredibly talented team of product designers for their take on momentous Mardi Gras staples to bring the holiday to life, each with their unique approach. 

A Masquerade to Remember

Designed by Megan Tran, CAD Designer
"My design was inspired by my Nanny, who lived in the French Quarter. She would collect masks just like this one."
Megan Tran
CAD Designer

Spot The Style:
We love Megan’s incorporation of one of our new accented ring styles (Series 72377). With its elegant detailing and a showstopping center, this piece is a perfect pick for Mardi Gras style.

Designed by Rachael Mitchell, Designer

Adorned with dazzling gems, this fanciful mask design features a unique detail — a beaded, dangling accent.

Crowned in Crystals

"Having relocated from Boston to Lafayette, I was so intrigued to see Mardi Gras go from being one day to an entire season! I love its symbolism with color, which inspired my design: Sapphire, Emerald, and Diamond, because Mardi Gras is never understated."
Christine Lloyd
Director of Creative Design

Dazzling Doubloons

"Newer to Louisiana, Mardi Gras has been a fascinating experience for me! I'm an avid gardener and wanted to combine a part of Acadiana’s natural history with a historic tradition of Mardi Gras, so I created a doubloon featuring the iris hexagona, with all six species listed around the edge."
Austin Zarobell
Senior Designer

Did You Know?
One of the first and most coveted throws, Mardi Gras doubloons are thought to have been introduced in the 1930’s. Initially wooden, they would be reintroduced as coins minted from aluminum in the 1960’s. 

Let The Good Times Roll

It’s endlessly exciting to see jewelry’s multitudes throughout history and cultures — wherever you are, we hope that today’s article shared a warm, southern Louisiana welcome into the world of Mardi Gras! Of course, it’s only the surface, and we encourage you to experience it for yourselves if there is ever a chance. 

For more than 50 years, Stuller has dedicated itself to providing high-quality, industry-leading designs to jewelers around the world. We also invite you to celebrate our incredible product designers and experts for their hard work, and immense talent. By sharing our story with you, we aim to always remind you of how big your part is — like a true Krewe.

Don’t forget to check out our Mardi Gras Glossary below to freshen up your vocabulary, and sound like a seasoned pro!

Mardi Gras Glossary

King Cake: A traditional sweet that typically involves dough that’s been braided or formed in a ring, filled either with cinnamon or specialty flavors, and iced with sprinkles.
Krewe: A social organization, usually private, that puts on parades or events for the Carnival season. (See also: common substitute term for friends, family, loved ones.)
Laissez les bons temps rouler: French phrase for, “Let the good times roll.”
Mardi Gras: Translated to “Fat Tuesday,” this day signifies the end of Carnival.
Royal Colors: The colors of Mardi Gras — purple for justice, green for faith, and gold for power.
Throws: A term used to describe treats, trinkets, and treasures that krewe members offer crowds during parades (think beads, doubloons, and sometimes coconuts!).
Twelfth Night: Known as the official start to Carnival, “Twelfth Night” begins on January 6th, and is typically ushered in with the first king cake of the season.


Claire Lyon

Staff Writer

Claire is a graduate of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette with a degree in Journalism. Her advanced writing background combined with her love of staying on top of the latest trends helps her find the perfect content to bring to the jewelry industry.