Festival Banner (the Arts Festival blog)

Ai Jewelry counts dignitaries as clientsMany Arts Festival Sidewalk Sale artists have famous clients but jewelry designer Aileen Lampman-Francioni, owner of Ai Jewelry in Pittsburgh, PA didn’t know how famous her clients were.

Last fall, Aileen’s leaf and tendril necklace was chosen for inclusion in a gift basket given to G-20 Summit dignitaries and their wives. The G-20 was held in Pittsburgh last October and featured heads-of-state from major economic powers, their vice presidents and their spouses.

Aileen says she’s still in shock about the course of events that led to her jewelry’s selection. After making several necklaces at the request of the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, Aileen was asked to come to what she thought was a simple interview and photo shoot on late September 2009, just a short time before the start of the G-20.

Instead, she says was met with a full-scale press conference involving, among others, Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, at which she learned her necklace had been selected.

Aileen quickly learned that the wide variety of cultures represented in the G-20 presented some limitations on her design possibilities. She had suggested including matching earrings to go with the necklace but was informed that earrings may not be seen as a suitable accessory in some of the countries involved in the G-20.

“Every detail, down to the color of the boxes, was considered. They all had to be the same color, as different colors carry different meanings in each culture.” said Lampman. “It was quite interesting to work around these cultural requirements that I had never even considered.”

Find Aileen at Sidewalk Sale booth A-55 on Allen Street and look for one of her pieces in the Silent Auction.