Bling on the Big Screen: Top Iconic Movie Jewelry Through the Years

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Do you still watch movies? If you’re a typical American, it’s a good bet that you do—either by live streaming at home or in a cinema. Movies are entertaining, relaxing, educational, and informative. Their visuals such as movie jewelry, outfits and attires, and awesome scenery often spill over into people’s lives—they make people experience, wear, or own them.

Top Iconic Movie Jewelry Through the Years

Visuals are intrinsic parts of any movie. They are one of the major components that make a movie great. Without them, a graveyard is more entertaining, regardless of who the cast is and the storyline. They make people imagine what it would be like to be bedecked with the classy jewelry or outfit they see in a film. They stir people’s inherent desirous nature.

Why is Movie Jewelry Important

There are three major categories of “visuals” in a movie: jewelry, outfit or costume, and scenery. Of the three, this article shall focus on movie jewelry.

Why is movie jewelry important? They help enhance a character’s beauty, role, or dem eanor. Jewelry symbolizes wealth, power, and status. By itself, it reflects a certain form of self-expression.

Hollywood movie jewelry has always been a part of a movie’s visuals since the release of its first film in the early 20th century— the Count of Monte Cristo. But women moviegoers started noticing them (and adapting them as fashion statements) only after the movie Mata Hari was released in 1931. Thus, movie jewelry are known to set trends.

Over the years, movie jewelry kept evolving until they are what they are today—garish,  opulent, and often superfluous—thanks to the increasing influence of women in movie-making (see chart).

 Role of women in movie-making
Role of women in movie-making

Are Movie Jewelry Real

William Goldman said, “In Hollywood, no one knows anything.” In a sense, it answers the question, “is the jewelry in movies real?”

In a movie set, costumes and prop designers are tasked to give an “entire new look” to the cast to present their individual character, motives, and personalities—from head to foot.

This “new look” may be taken off a studio’s inventory of costumes and movie jewelry. But for movies with the Oscars in mind, movie producers may borrow from well-known jewelry outfits, like the Tiffany Diamond, or have a credible jeweler make a new one or a replica: like the Isadora necklace.

And talking about it, is the Isadora diamond real? Yes, it is real.  It is the 87-carat diamond pendant Kate Hudson, as Andi, wore in the movie How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. At $5 million, it is vaunted as the most expensive jewelry every made for a movie.

Isadora diamond
Isadora diamond

On the other hand, the beautiful necklace in the movie Titanic was modeled after the famous Hope Diamond. The necklace in the movie was a look-alike, using cubic zirconium set in white gold created by Asprey and Garrad of London, famous makers of movie jewelry replicas.

Some actresses do it their own way

Not all movie jewelry is acquired the same way. Some actresses, for reasons only they know, prefer to wear their own jewelry during filming. Here are some of them.

  • Mae West wore her Belle Époque jewelry and Art Deco bracelets when filming the movie, She Done Him Wrong.
  • Gloria Swanson wore her Cartier rock crystal and diamond bracelets in Sunset Boulevard. 
  • Gina Lollobrigida would not part with her favorite diamond necklace and bracelet when she filmed Woman of Straw in 1954.

Iconic Movie Jewelry

Women love jewelry. And this love affair is portrayed heavily in movies. Jewelry and precious stones are crucial parts of a movie set. Not only do they increase the visual appeal of the characters, but they also help in projecting or enhancing the character a movie tries to instill into the viewer’s mind.

And this symbiosis goes a long way back in the history of cinema. Over the years, however, some movie jewelry left a huge imprint, not only in the movies but in the general populace as well.  Here are some of them: the iconic movie jewelry through the years.

The list is long and impressive (though not inclusive). And if you have the fortitude to go through each, these questions will constantly pop in your mind:

  • What is the most famous necklace?
  • Which film was the most expensive piece of jewelry made for?

Diamond Headpiece – 1928

This diamond headpiece is a glittering diadem of diamonds worn by Anna May Wong in the movie Pavement Butterfly. It is iconic not only because of the sparkling jewels but also because Ms. Wong was the first Chinese-American to play the lead in a romantic film.

The Pavement Butterfly was a British-German silent movie collaboration. It tells the story of a dancer, Anna, in the French Riviera…

Diamond and Other Gemstone Bracelets – 1933

In 1933, Jean Harlow’s jewelry, in her movie, Dinner at Eight, became iconic.  It was a set of bracelets stacked with four diamonds and other gemstones worn over a white satin glove.

Jean Harlow''s movie jewelry collection
Jean Harlow”s movie jewelry collection

The art deco jewelry complimented the iconic ensemble Jean Harlow was famous for.

Gold Rope Necklace and Matching Bracelet – 1936

That year, Greta Garbo’s gold rope necklace and matching bracelet in the movie, Camille, caught the attention of jewelry-watchers at the time—and the jewelry-loving crowd as well.

The gold rope necklace and bracelet were enviable,  as well as Greta Garbo’s beauty. In fact, her beauty caught the attention of the Guinness Book of Records which, in 1950, voted her as the most beautiful woman in the world.

Victorian Cameo Brooch – 1939

In 1939, Gone with the Wind was released It was known for being the best and most successful film of all time. It even enjoyed a more-than 30-year reign as all-time Hollywood box office champion.

Equally important to its success as a movie was the oversized Victorian cameo brooch Janet Leigh (as Scarlett O’Hara) wore in the final scene.

Layered Necklaces – 1941

Carmen Miranda’s wardrobe in the movie, Weekend in Havana, was iconic on its own.

In the movie, Carmen played a singer on board a ship bound for Cuba and her stunning colorful, beaded necklace and her beauty swooned the movie-going crowd.

Diamond Tennis Necklace – 1946

This diamond tennis necklace was a glamorous thin choker that was subtle but dazzling on Rita Hayworth in the movie, Gilda.

The necklace made a statement against her strapless satin evening gown, consequently becoming iconic during the period.

Diamond Choker – 1950

Sunset Boulevard was a movie about a movie queen whose glory days were over, but can’t accept it. Critics praised it for its accurate portrayal of Hollywood’s shoddy treatment of stars whose glitter has faded.

Gloria Swanson’s choker necklace gave the movie’s gloomy storyline a trace of silver lining.

Gloria Swanson's choker necklace
Gloria Swanson’s choker necklace

Another thing that made the necklace iconic is that Barbara Stanwyck wore it in her movie, The Lady Eve (1941), and Zsa Zsa Gabor in the movie Picture Mommy Dead (1966)

Diamond Necklace – 1952

The Las Vegas Story was a thriller murder and deceit movie centered on Las Vegas. It opened with a  businessman, Victor Mature, and his glamourous wife, Jane Russell, arriving in the gambling capital of the US.

On top of the movie’s thrilling plot and sub-plots was Jane Russell’s opulent diamond necklace that cost $ 150,000 at that time. It was loaned to the movie outfit by Cartier for the film.

Diamond Choker, Bracelets, and Earrings – 1953

In 1953, Marilyn Monroe was already a megastar. And she flaunted it by wearing the image. Everything about her glittered – as a person or the jewelry she owned.

And she carried it to the next level by showing off her diamond choker, bracelet, and earrings in the movie Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. 

Diamond Engagement Ring – 1956

Some actresses are known to wear their own jewelry in the movie set. Grace Kelly was one of them.

In the movie High Society, she wore a diamond ring that can be spotted from a mile away. It was a Cartier 8-carat emerald-cut diamond, given to her by Prince Rainier of Monaco as an engagement ring.

It was her last movie before she finally became Princess Grace of Monaco.

Multi-Strand Pearl Bracelet – 1957

Love is the subject of most movies. And An Affair to Remember was one of them. The movie was about a man and woman, both engaged to different persons, who fell in love while on a cruise from Europe to New York. It was a typical adult love story—sensible and serious (though comical at times).

But what made the movie to the iconic movie jewelry set was Deborah Kerr’s multi-strand pearl bracelet that stood out against her tangerine coat.

Pear and Diamond Necklace – 1961

Audrey Hepburn was the first person to wear Tiffany’s Yellow Diamond in the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s. It was set in a multi-strand pearl necklace, matched with a large diamond brooch.

Beaded Choker and Pendant – 1971

It is often the wearer that makes jewelry glitter. And this is the case of the beaded choker and pendant Jill St. John wore in the movie, Diamonds are Forever.

It provided the perfect “70s glam look” when matched with her plunging neckline and corseted gown.

Ruby and Diamond Necklace – 1980

this is Julia Roberts’ ruby and diamond necklace in Pretty Woman (1980). It was the top romantic comedy movie at that time. But the ruby and diamond necklace Julia wore was not only iconic but legendary as well.

Gold Jewels – 1995

The movie Casino was not about gold jewels but the hustling and bustling, and cheating and backstabbing atmosphere of a Vegas casino. But the fixation of the lead actress Sharon Stone on gold, gold, and more gold jewelry of all kinds made her movie jewelry iconic.

Heart of the Ocean – 1997

The Heart of the Ocean is, of course, Kate Winslet’s necklace in the movie Titanic.

Heart of the Ocean
Heart of the Ocean

The Heart of the Ocean necklace in the Titanic is the most famous movie jewelry. However, it is not the real Heart of the Ocean. The one seen in the movie is made from the diamond alternative cubic zirconium set in white gold.

The real necklace is the 45.52-carat Hope Diamond—one of the world’s most precious diamonds. At current rates, it is estimated to cost $350 million. Nevertheless, it is still considered the most famous necklace. 

Diamond Bib Necklace – 2001

This piece of amazing art was worn by Nicole Kidman in the movie Moulin Rouge.

Satine was Nicole’s name in the movie but she was nicknamed “Sparkling Diamond” because of this necklace that got everybody’s attention. Set in an intricate lace design, the choker reached as far as her cleavage.

This necklace is also vaunted to be the most expensive movie jewelry ever made until it was shoved aside by the Isadora necklace.

Diamond Necklace and Chandelier Earrings – 2006

Marie Antoinette was the queen of France in the 1700s. Her story was made into a movie of the same title as her rule contributed to the tumultuous history of the country. In fact, it led to the overthrow of the French monarchy.

But history aside, the movie jewelry became iconic because it reflected the excesses of the royal family during her reign as queen. Worn by Kirsten Dunst, who played the role of Marie Antoinette, the necklace with its matching chandelier earrings did not fail to catch the attention of the movie-goers and critics.

Pearl Necklace – 2008

Another female historical figure whose life was turned into a movie was Anne Boleyn.

Anne was the second wife of King Henry the VIII of England and the mother of Queen Elizabeth I. Her marriage to the king, however, was engulfed in a lot of controversies that led to the country’s divorce from the Roman Catholic Church.

The movie made it to the list of iconic movie jewelry list because of Natalie Portman’s (who played the role of Anne) necklace with a pearl “B” pendant.

Diamond Headpiece and Matching Diamond Bracelet – 2013

Carey Mulligan, in the movie The Great Gatsby, wore several stunning art deco jewelry items but what made the movie to the iconic list was her diadem headpiece matched with a diamond bracelet/hand-piece.

Jeweled Tiara – 2019

Downtown Abbey is a movie set in the 1920s. And the jeweled tiara was worn by Michelle Dockery aptly evoked the era.
Her retr0 jewelry was sourced from costume designer London-based Anna Robbins to be historically accurate.

Bling and Movies: The Perfect Mix

Just like spice and other condiments on food, movie jewelry adds flair and taste to a film. Most people may not consciously notice them. but they appeal to viewers’ inner instinct, their desire to detect, though fleetingly, the finer things in life.

Men may not be particularly acute about movie jewelry as a lot of women do. And movie-makers know this. For this, they spare no expense to embellish the lead characters with the best jewelry and costumes they can lay their hands on.

Now that you know how jewelry impacted movies, perhaps you need to learn more about buying jewelry, check out our guide “Why You Should Buy the Jewelry That You Want.”









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