This time of year is one of anticipation for jewellery lovers everywhere as it is Red Carpet season and there's always gorgeous fashion and fabulous jewels to be seen. This week's Screen Actors Guild Awards didn't disappoint. There was plenty of glamorous outfits and beautiful bling on the red carpet. With everything from chandelier earrings and multicoloured rings to intricately-ornate necklaces, there was absolutely no shortage of jaw-dropping bling at the annual award show on Sunday night.
I think by now most people recognise that the majority of celebrities on the red carpet are not wearing their own jewellery. They are loaned pieces by the top jewellery brands in order to have their pieces seen and photographed. One sparkling moment in the celebrity spotlight can be worth millions in advertising for a jewellery brand. The styles celebrities choose to wear set trends that trickle all the way down to the mall’s fast-fashion copycats. It’s difficult to pin down exactly when the practice of lending jewellery for the red carpet started. By the 1930s, Paul Flato, the original jeweller to the stars, was already lending his designs to the studios for celebrities to wear in films, so it is likely that they wore them on special occasions too.
But one famous jeweller claims to have started the trend. Any guesses?
Harry Winston has long claimed to have been the first to lend diamonds to a star to wear to the Academy Awards. It was 1944, and at the request of producer David O. Selznick, a friend of the jeweller, Harry Winston lent a pair of diamond earrings to his future wife Jennifer Jones, who won the lead actress award for the film “The Song of Bernadette” that year.
The earrings aren’t visible in photos, and nobody knows what happened to them afterward, but the moment has nonetheless become part of Harry Winston lore. The firm lends out millions of dollars worth of diamonds every year, including the $165,000 princess-cut diamond choker Gwyneth Paltrow wore with a pink Ralph Lauren ball gown when she won an Oscar for 1998’s “Shakespeare in Love.” After the ceremony, Paltrow’s father Bruce bought it for her.
“It’s a company commitment,” says Frederic de Narp, Harry Winston’s president and chief executive. “We have a dedicated team, PR effort and craftsman effort. We pull from all 22 of our salons around the world so celebrities can pick and choose the best of the best.”
The red carpet wasn’t the international luxury fashion phenomenon that it is today until the 1990s, when Giorgio Armani saw an opportunity and began dressing Hollywood for award shows.
Jeweller Martin Katz didn’t know what he was in for when Sharon Stone called him in 1992 asking to borrow a pearl necklace and earrings to wear to the premiere of “Basic Instinct.”
“I said, ‘Borrow?’” Katz remembers. “If she breaks it or loses it, it’s too bad, Martin. And it’s not as if she was going to wear a sandwich board with my name on it.” Katz agreed on one condition: that Stone wear his jewellery while doing magazine publicity for the film and that his name be in the fashion credits.
That simple agreement changed Katz’s career and the red carpet forever. “My phone started ringing off the hook,” he says. “I had to hire publicists to deal with the phone calls. Jewellers around the world were offering me pieces to put on celebs; people were even giving me scripts to show celebs.”
Fortunately, there haven’t been too many calamities along the way. But one notable accident occurred at the 1998 Oscars, when Minnie Driver’s ruby bracelet snagged and broke and a couple dozen rubies went flying. “She was on her hands and knees with James Cameron, and luckily they found them all,” Katz remembers.
Although he can’t measure the results of each placement in one-to-one sales, he says the media attention has been invaluable. Katz went from working on his kitchen table in a one-bedroom apartment to working in his own salon on Brighton Way in Beverly Hills.
The growth of the Internet has made celebrity endorsements even more valuable, he says. A single placement lives for perpetuity on websites and blogs and can reach billions of people.
It’s funny how once a few celebrities started borrowing jewellery for awards shows, most followed suit. And its big business for the jewellers and celebrities with some celebrities and influencers being paid to wear the pieces in order to get exposure.
For most of us this is not a world we live in, but we can benefit from the concept of not having to own our jewellery in a traditional way, either through smart ownership or being part of a service that allows one to borrow special pieces. Covett delivers both so you can have your own red-carpet moments with out worry or hassle because like with the celebrities, the pieces are insured.
Roll out the red carpet!
Red Carpet Worthy Pieces from Covett