Long before the Met Gala was the biggest fashion party of the year lit up with dazzling diamonds or the subject of the documentary The First Monday in May or the inspiration for the jewelry heist in Ocean’s 8, it was a relatively modest fundraiser for the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The event, which launched in 1948, was the brainchild of the legendary publicist Eleanor Lambert who also conceived the International Best Dressed List and New York Fashion Week.
Back in the day, the gala was held at various restaurants in New York City. Tickets cost around $50 and attendees were a blend of society and the fashion industry. Things began to change during the 1970s when Diana Vreeland, the once legendary Vogue editor-in-chief, began her second act as a special consultant to the Costume Institute. She brought the party in-house to the museum and expanded the guest list to include the same stylish blend of actors, artists, models and designers that populated the pages of Vogue. While the celebrations were glam, there wasn’t a major red carpet and countless photographers to record every angle.
In the mid-1990s when Vogue Editor-in-Chief, Anna Wintour, became a chair of the gala she used the template Vreeland created for the party and began to elevate and expand it. Flash forward to now and the fine-tuned affair brings international recognition to the annual fashion exhibitions and has raised over $120 million for the museum. A major part of the press coverage of the gala is the red-carpet.
“The Met stairs, the famous red carpet, has grown in spectacle over the years; it’s a kind of theater.”—Anna Wintour discussing the Met Gala in the First Monday in May documentary.
There have been a seemingly infinite number of major diamond moments during the Wintour years at the Met. The gem has acted as a spotlight or the proverbial icing on the cake of elaborate fashions and it also happens to be the editor’s favorite stone. Well, at least that’s what her daughter Bee Carrozzini shared in a behind-the-scenes moment when she was trying on jewelry in The First Monday in May. To be exact she stated, “Mom only likes diamonds.”
Since the annual event has been postponed this year due to the coronavirus, we thought it was the perfect time to take a look back at some of the best and brightest diamond jewels in recent memory. We edited the long list down to 10 of our favorites. They range from eye-catching contemporary pieces to gorgeous vintage treasures.