Joe Biden gave Russian President Vladimir Putin a pair of custom, Massachusetts-made aviator sunglasses

Call it sunglasses diplomacy.

US president Joe Biden puts on his sunglasses at the end of his closing press conference during the US - Russia summit in Geneva, Switzerland, Wednesday, June 16, 2021. (Peter Klaunzer/Keystone via AP, Pool) Peter Klaunzer / Pool

There’s always a Massachusetts angle — even in overseas diplomacy.

During their meeting Wednesday in Switzerland, President Joe Biden gave Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin a pair of custom aviator sunglasses that hail from the outskirts of Boston.

According to a White House official, Biden gifted Putin a pricey pair of custom Aviators made by the Randolph-based eyeglass manufacturer Randolph Engineering.

The company was surprised but excited by the news, a Randolph employee told Boston.com over the phone Wednesday afternoon. However, in a subsequent blog post, the company said that Biden, whose affinity for Aviators is well known, gave Putin a pair of their 57-millimeter-frame “Concorde teardrop aviators, in 23 karat Gold with SkyTec™ Polarized American Gray lenses” in Geneva.


The glasses are listed on Randolph’s website for $299.

For his part, Biden has been wearing Ray-Ban’s Aviator-style sunglasses so long that he has joked that the company should sponsor him. However, Ray-Ban is based in Italy, and thus perhaps not befitting for gifts on behalf of the United States.

“Biden has always been a big fan of aviators for his personal style, it was only fitting for him to gift our premium Concorde frames to his guest,” Randolph wrote in its blog post Wednesday, adding that the customized glasses that Biden gave Putin included the American’s president’s signature on the right lens and inside the temple.

“The White House made an excellent choice as these are one of our most popular styles with some of the best polarized lenses in the world,” the company said.

It’s not the first time that Randolph has worked with the American government.

According to the White House, the company joined forces with the U.S. military in 1978 to produce Aviators for actual fighter pilots.

“They have since provided the U.S. military and NATO partners with their high-level, durable aviators, manufactured domestically in their Massachusetts factory,” the Biden administration official said.

According to the White House, Biden also gave Putin a crystal sculpture of an American Bison during their “constructive” meeting Wednesday. Created by Steuben Glass of New York, the sculpture of the United States’ national mammal was a “stately interpretation of one of our nation’s most majestic mammals and representative of strength, unity, [and] resilience,” officials said.


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