American Italian Digest
Fall, 2016 Issue


Outstanding Woman of our Italian American Community – Past, Present, Future
By Sandra Scalise Juneau

Beyond the Italian art of style, sprezzatura, as described by Castiglione in his mid-1500’s masterpiece, “The Courtier”, is the Italian art of doing everyday tasks, even difficult ones, with such graceful ease as to make them seem effortless. It is this connecting thread, an innate gift of sprezzatura that we will explore through these profiles; Outstanding Woman of our Italian American Community – Past, Present, Future.

It was their sprezzatura that enabled those first immigrant women to envision success for their families in this new world. Their triumphs, achieved despite displacement and prejudice, while overcoming barriers of unfamiliar language and customs, embraced change while sustaining ancient and sacred traditions. It is that same gift of sprezzatura which enables succeeding generations of women to cultivate their talents for realizing their dreams, rising to distinction in their chosen fields of endeavor. It is that inherent gift of sprezzatura that continues to endow our young women of Italian American heritage with graceful excellence in all of their achievements.

New Orleans Anne Dale


Anne Ferrara Dale

Outstanding Woman Diamond Expert and Master Gemologist Anne Dale, it was her loving family that sparked her imagination and inspired her creativity. Her father, Paul Ferrara, renowned Jazz drummer who performed with noted New Orleans icons; Al Hirt, Pete Fountain, Louis Prima, the Dukes of Dixieland. His dedication was the driving force for Anne’s aspirations, though as a youngster, she had yet to find the passion of her life’s ambition.

Her mother, Diane Allen Ferrara, an Irish lady from Brooklyn was the stabilizing influence for Anne and her four sisters, adopting the traditions of New Orleans-Sicilian culture. Their Sunday dinners always included more than traditional family favorites, those rituals served up love and stability, the springboard for Anne’s unbounded optimism and generosity of spirit.

On a fateful fifth-grade trip to a Gem Show, Anne was mesmerized by varied gemstones, but one sparkling stone caught her eye. Anne purchased that gem with her lunch money, proudly bringing home her new found treasure, its sparkle continuing to intrigue throughout her growing up years.

It was the love of her life, Michael Dale, who truly put Anne onto her path as a jeweler.

Michael had a natural talent for jewelry-making and was employed creating original designs for several local stores. After their marriage in 1983, Mike continued developing his craft, while Anne attended various jewelry conferences. At one such conference, inspired by a presenting gemologist, Anne grabbed a pen and wrote the words, “I WILL BE A GEMOLOGIST.”

Anne sharpened her knowledge, becoming a “Fellow of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain”, distinguished as the first in Louisiana. As she journeyed deeper into the world of gemologists, traveling to Europe and China, she held to the deepest roots of her inherited Louisiana-Sicilian culture – that quest for success which drove her grandfather, Paul Saverio Martin Ferrara from Contessa Entellina to New Orleans. Realizing a shared dream that she and Mike had envisioned, in 1999 they opened their own retail store, Anne Dale Jewelers, located on Saint Ann Drive in Mandeville.

Their business and family were growing, with three children – Stephen, Paul and Grace. Their home in a lush wooded area of Covington is a gathering-place for family and friends but when Katrina hit, their home became an island of isolation, cut off from roadways by fallen trees.

Describing the scene around her table during those dreary weeks, Anne explains, “One evening after a lackluster, but appreciated dinner, we gathered around the battery-operated radio for some news. With no music to be heard, my dad began to drum on the table and whistle the tune, ’Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans?’ For the next few glorious minutes, we were all transported far away from our concerns to, ’the city that care forgot.’”

That rhythm, the soul of her father’s music, inspired Anne to create a unique jewelry design – “I Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans”. Like so many others, Anne and Michael faced an uncertain future for their business, yet open heartedly gave this new icon to First Responders.

One was given to actor, Dan Aykroyd.  When Anne received a call asking for delivery to him of five hundred more, without hesitation she replied, “Of course!”, while wondering how in the world they could. They were delivered, and given to First Responders, here from all points assisting in New Orleans’ recovery. Within weeks additional orders poured in, putting Anne Dale Jewelers back on track for success.

In Thanksgiving, just as her Sicilian ancestors had done for centuries, Anne made a pledge to celebrate with a Saint Joseph Altar. Each year since, Anne and Michael have hosted a magnificent tribute to Saint Joseph, set up and open to all, right inside their jewelry store on Saint Ann Drive. In gratitude, Anne has followed her passion for many causes with a series of original designs called – Jewelry for a Cause, each individual design dedicated to what Anne calls, “Inspired Blessings”.

Anne discovered a new treasure – found from such common material as our regional oyster shells. Recognized by the Smithsonian Institute and adopted by the Louisiana Legislature on August 15, 2011 – LaPearlite® is now the official gemstone of the State of Louisiana.

The discovery of this new gemstone is a perfect metaphor for Anne Ferrara Dale – the stone’s durability is like Anne’s resourceful tenacity, its local renewability is as genuine as Anne’s giving Louisiana spirit, and when polished, its soft luster recalls her inspired compassion.

Outstanding Woman Diamond Expert


Mandeville Jewelry Appraisers Anne Dale was a guest speaker at the National Association of Jewelry Appraisers 2016 conference in New Port Beach California. She presented a peek into the future of evaluating fine jewelry  and the impact technology has on market value.

[vc_images_carousel images=”11748,11747,11746,11745,11744″ img_size=”full” slides_per_view=”2″ autoplay=”yes” wrap=”yes” title=”National Association of Jewelry Appraiser 2016 Conference”]

Jewelry Appraiser

July 26, 2004

Anne Dale, FGA, Director Gem-A USA
Michael Cohn, Director of the Jewelry Dept., Fashion Institute of Technology

The famed FGA program comes to America from England with its headquarters in Louisiana and an Allied Teaching Center right here in New York City at FIT. Participants in this meeting learned more about the Gem-A program and how it is such a dramatically different gemology program. The course book was available for perusal with Ms. Dale and Mr. Cohn as they answered many questions. A small selection of Gem-A products were presented for an intimate hands-on. Our speakers donated to our scholarship fund auction an OPL hand held spectroscope and several ink pens from Harrod’s.

Source: NAJA 2004

Manresa Retreat House
Each year over sixty-two hundred men from all across Louisiana and beyond make an annual pilgrimage to Manrea House of Retreats in Convent, Louisiana. The three day non-denominational retreats hosted by Jesuit priests are based on the Saint Ignatius spiritual exercises. Manresa is a place where men come to mediate and be rejuvenated spiritually.

New Orleans Saints
Manresa Cross

“Anyone who has sat in quite reflection under these trees knows their beauty, strength and history.” – Michael Dale (Anne Dale Jewelers)

Men of Manresa rooted in prayer, symbolically represented in the old oak tree – its strength, protection and wisdom. While nearby the passage-of-time flows much like the uninterrupted power of the Mississippi River.

Yet both MAN and TIME stop or at least pause in this holy place in silence – the beauty of it all.

Saint Joseph alley is a spacious pathway of majestic oaks leading from Manresa to the mighty Mississippi River, these trees were planted during construction of the main house in the 1830’s. Today, many of them measure nearly twenty-two feet in circumference and are among some of the oldest oak trees in Louisiana. Sadly one of the nearly two-hundred-year-old oak trees had fallen during a 2015 spring storm.

Making of the Manresa Cross

custom jewelry designer

Grounds keeper Adrien Delbasty gathered up the wood for jeweler Michael Dale (whose family has been attending Manresa since the 1930s) to begin the process of crafting these crosses.

Saint Joseph Abbey Monastery is a Romanesque bricked Catholic church founded in 1889 . Unlike many churches in south Louisiana the Abbey has no stained glass windows; but extensive theological murals painted by Gregory de Wit a Belgium Monk.


Saint Joseph Abbey Church

Like many people growing-up in 1960’s, New Orleans jewelry designer Anne Dale was emerged in a unique rich spiritual environment and her family’s Catholic faith\heritage.

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