Michelle Obama 'Vote' necklace from DNC in hot demand: How to get one

Designer Chari Cuthbert of ByChari says she "cried" to see the former first lady wearing her design and has been slammed with orders.

Gael Cooper
CNET editor Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." She's been a journalist since 1989, working at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, Twin Cities Sidewalk, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and NBC News Digital. She's Gen X in birthdate, word and deed. If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
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Gael Cooper
3 min read

Michelle Obama wore a necklace that spelled out VOTE while speaking at the virtual Democratic National Convention on Monday night.

Video screenshot by Gael Fashingbauer Cooper/CNET

The designer of the gold V-O-T-E necklace Michelle Obama wore when she spoke at the virtual Democratic National Convention Monday night says "it was surreal" to see the former first lady wearing the creation and that the necklace has been selling extraordinarily well since its big moment in the spotlight.

"My finance guy just texted me a bunch of exclamation points, so I assume that's a good thing," Chari Cuthbert of Los Angeles-based ByChari told The Daily Beast

Obama, the final speaker during the DNC's first night, discussed the importance of voting in this fall's presidential election while wearing the V-O-T-E necklace.  She encouraged listeners to register to vote and to "vote for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris like our lives depend on it." 

After her speech, there was such buzz about her jewelry that its designer quickly offered it for sale online.

While Obama never mentioned the jewelry, and the necklace was subtle, many viewers not only noticed but wanted one of their own. As soon as her speech ended, social media users began posting asking where they could buy the necklace. 

A representative for By Chari confirmed that the necklace is part of the company's custom collection, which allows buyers to spell out a name or other word on the necklace. After Obama's speech, the company quickly added the specific VOTE necklace to its website, priced at $295 (about £223, AU$407). 

"So many people have been buying it (since Obama's speech)," the By Chari representative told me via email.

The catalog copy at first didn't mention Obama, but has since been edited to say, "Ready to rock the vote? Do it in style with our coveted VOTE necklace. Our best selling piece, this necklace was designed for powerhouse women who let their voices be heard, especially at the polls. Michelle Obama donned this piece at the 2020 Democratic National Convention, encouraging people to do just that: have a say and vote."

The necklace will take three to four weeks to produce, the site says. It's available in 14-karat yellow, rose, and white gold in small, large, or diamond letters.

Obama's stylist ordered the necklace a few weeks ago, but the jeweler didn't know it would be worn so publicly at the convention. When she saw it, she was thrilled.

"It was surreal," she told The Daily Beast. "I sat at my desk and cried."

The social buzz started almost as soon as Obama first appeared and began speaking.

"Psst, Biden team: Start selling that vote necklace Michelle Obama is wearing and you'll fund ads for the next 77 days," Christina Reynolds tweeted.

CNN White House correspondent Kate Bennett was among the first to report that the necklace was from By Chari.

"Michelle Obama has always been extremely conscious that whatever she wears will likely sell out, and as such often champions smaller, less-well-known labels and brands, many with culturally diverse owners/designers," Bennett tweeted.

Just a week ago, Cuthbert, 36, spoke to Time Magazine about shifting her five-employee company to a work-at-home business during the coronavirus outbreak. Her company has a special focus on mothers, she told Time, and work-life balance was very important to her.

Cuthbert told The Daily Beast she quit her office job in 2012 and moved to Hawaii with just $100 to start her business. She created the VOTE necklace after moving her company to Los Angeles in the election year of 2016.