Sunday, February 9, 2020 marks the 92nd Academy Awards—the crown jewel of the award show season. Here, stars pull out all the stops, for the year’s most major red carpet moment. They dress in the most exquisite gowns and striking tuxedos, flash the brightest smiles, and adorn themselves in jewelry that could only have been created by Mother Nature herself.
From the depths of the Earth to the Oscars red carpet, natural diamonds have played an iconic and historic role in Hollywood’s evolution from past to present glamour. Diamond trends have changed since the first-ever Oscars ceremony on May 16, 1929. During these early award show years, celebrity stylists were few and far between— instead, actors wore pieces from their personal collections, and since the event was neither televised nor broadcast on the radio, little is known about who wore what and when.
Oh, have the times changed since then! Today, celebrity diamond moments are the most highly anticipated red carpet reveal, with a yearly display of spectacular jewels loaned from the vaults of the world’s most legendary jewelers for one very special night.
Each year, regardless of who takes home a golden statue, there is one thing that remains the same—the bigger the diamond, the brighter the star.
At the 12th Academy Awards, Gone With the Wind swept the stage with eight epic wins—including the Oscar for Best Actress, awarded to Vivien Leigh. When the Hollywood ingénue stepped up to the podium to deliver her acceptance speech, she was nearly outshined by the magnificent natural diamond necklace worn around her neck. The piece, designed by Van Cleef & Arpels, was a gift from her then-fiancé and fellow star of the era, Sir Laurence Olivier, who sent the necklace to Leigh while she was on set filming the cinematic masterpiece.
Two-time Oscar winner, Elizabeth Taylor, arrived at the 29th Academy Awards walking arm in arm with her third husband, Mike Todd, whose film Around the World in 80 Days would be awarded Best Picture. Taylor stunned on the red carpet wearing an antique, natural diamond tiara that Todd gave her before the ceremony. In the late actress’s book, My Love Affair with Jewelry, Taylor recounts that Todd lovingly said, “You’re my queen,” as he presented her with the sparkling symbol of his affection.
At the 70th Academy Awards, Gloria Stuart was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the film Titanic. To commemorate her nomination—and dazzle while doing so—Stuart commissioned a replica of the storyline’s famed jewel, ‘The Heart of the Ocean,’ which she wore to the ceremony. Handcrafted by Harry Winston, the necklace would be better described as real than replica; unlike the prop in the movie—which was mostly composed of cubic zirconia—Stuart’s necklace brought ‘The Heart of the Ocean’ to life featuring a 15-carat, fancy blue natural diamond, one of the rarest types of natural diamonds, worth an estimated $20 million.
Nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her role in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Taraji P. Henson walked the red carpet at the 81st Academy Awards wearing a 19th-century natural diamond necklace from Fred Leighton. Her jewelry look was created by Rebecca Selva, chief creative officer of Fred Leighton and a renowned pioneer in the natural diamond industry. At the time, Selva had worked for the Madison Avenue jeweler for an impressive 23 years with a focus on antique gems. Selva is credited as one of the first-ever jewelers to loan celebrities natural diamonds for red carpet events—just as she did for the talented Taraji P. Henson in 2009.