Jewelry Trends on Oscars’ Red Carpet
Many viewers watched A-list celebrities attend the 90th Academy Awards on Sunday. The red carpet was full of Hollywood’s elite flaunting event fashion and of course the jewelry. This year’s Oscars was a great source of jewelry trends and proves that not all pieces need to be a million dollars to be note-worthy.
Today, the world’s best jewelers all take it for granted that draping an A-list actress in diamonds is essential for an event such as the Oscars. As glamorous and romantic as it can be, the Academy Awards red carpet is also a marketing platform. Publicists, stylists and studio executive are all determined to make their stars stand out from the crowd.
Stephanie Tricola, a stylist who has worked with A-listers including Margot Robbie and Saoirse Ronan, says that brokering the connection between an actress and her red carpet jewels can start a full month before the big day. Tricola says she begins by sending e-mails to the jewelers, and then makes appointments to browse the world’s most fantastic — and expensive — gems.
But not always. In cases of cross-country travel, sometimes “it comes FedEx,” she says. (This is not totally unprecedented: Harry Winston infamously sent the Hope Diamond to the Smithsonian Institution via the US Postal Service in 1958.) Either way, taking custody of a jewel that costs more than a small house can be “stressful.” As soon as the bling arrives — chaperoned or not — she triple-checks it against the inventory list that comes with it. Although the jewelers have insurance, the stylists do, too. Tricola says the stylist, not the movie star who might absentmindedly let a clasp slip, absorbs the risk: “Once I have a piece out on loan, it’s my responsibility.”
Bedazzling A-listers wasn’t always such a highly orchestrated affair…
The first time a movie star borrowed jewels for the Oscars was back in 1944, when Harry Winston lent actress Jennifer Jones a diamond necklace at the behest of producer David O. Selznick.
Jewelry historian Marion Fasel cites the 1970 awards as one of the turning points: Legendary diamond collector Elizabeth Taylor arrived at the show wearing a low-cut periwinkle gown that matched her eyes — and her very own 69.42-carat stone around her neck. She and husband Richard Burton had recently bought at it a highly publicized public auction for over a million dollars.
“At the time it was the most expensive diamond in the world,” says Fasel, who ran InStyle’s jewelry coverage for nearly 19 years. “People see that image and think that there must be more moments like that in jewelry history, but there really aren’t,” partly because the pricey jewels were Taylor’s own.
Going forward through the 1980s, extraordinary jewels at awards shows were still few and far between.
Stars wore their own, more modest pieces, or even costume jewelry. And if they borrowed, it was usually because “there was a personal relationship [with the jeweler],” Fasel explains.
“Before [the ’90s], lending was really reserved for editorial purposes,” Rebecca Selva, Fred Leighton’s chief creative officer and p.r. director, tells The Post. The benefits of supplying jewels for glossy photo shoots were obvious, as the brand’s name would appear in the pages of top magazines. But at that time, no one was asking Oscar nominees about their outfits on the red carpet. The publicity opportunities were indirect, at best.
Comedienne Joan Rivers helped change all that in 1994, when she created a show for the burgeoning E! network, called “Live From the Red Carpet,” in which Rivers, a jewelry lover, asked questions about the pieces the actresses wore.
But even with new hoops for jewelers to jump through, Fasel says that it’s worth it, without a doubt, to get a gorgeous piece on the red carpet. “If you look at jewelry in a museum, it’s in a case, but jewelry is not complete unless it’s worn. You want to see it on, and see it out. To see the treasure that comes out at red-carpet time — it’s great scenery.”