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.
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