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 Met Gala looks 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.”
The 2022 Met Gala picks up where last year’s “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion” theme left off, with a Gilded Glamour dress code supporting the new “In America: An Anthology of Fashion” exhibition. In honor of the event, we edited the long list of memorable looks down to our favorite Met Gala jewelry looks over the years, ranging from eye-catching contemporary pieces to gorgeous vintage treasures.
The Best Met Gala Diamond Jewelry Looks of All Time
For the 1997 Met Gala, supermodel Iman was radiant in a white and embellished Versace dress and ornate diamond earrings she showed off with a high ponytail. She finished the glam look with a sparkling tiara fit for a fashion queen.
2. Sarah Jessica Parker, 2013
Sarah Jessica Parker was unforgettable at the 2013 Met Gala opening of the “Punk: Chaos to Couture” exhibition. The star wore a massive mohawk Philip Treacy headpiece, diamond rivière, diamond moon necklaces as well as ginormous diamond pendant earrings, all from Fred Leighton.
3. Kate Hudson, 2015
Amazing diamond headpieces are one accessory you see more often at the Met Gala than any other major red carpet. For the 2015 Met Gala honoring the “China Through the Looking Glass” exhibition, Kate Hudson fashioned an elaborate Lorraine Schwartz necklace with a floral motif in her updo. The canary and champagne diamonds in the jewel picked up on the pattern in her gold Michael Kors gown.
4. Kim Kardashian, 2015
At the 2015 Met Gala, Kim Kardashian glowed in elegant front to back Lorraine Schwartz earrings set with large diamonds that weighed just over 33-carats. The jewels shone next to her ethereal nude tulle embroidered gown designed by Peter Dundas for Roberto Cavalli.
5. Uma Thurman, 2016
An epic diamond bird brooch made by Cartier in 1948 perched on Uma Thurman’s shoulder strap as she strolled up the Met’s red carpeted stairs in 2016. The big bird measuring almost 8-inches high and set with over 90-carats of diamonds flew in just for the occasion from the Cartier Collection in Paris. While the piece has been on view in exhibitions and published in books the occasion marked its red-carpet debut.
6. Jennifer Lopez, 2017
Jennifer Lopez added serious shimmer to her baby blue Valentino gown at the 2017 Met Gala with lots of Harry Winston diamonds. Her pieces included Three Row Hoops set with 42.54-carats of diamonds, a vintage diamond bracelet set with 57.30-carats of diamonds and a stack of diamond band rings.
Hip-hop trio Migos kept their 2018 Met Gala look colorful and cool, donning matching sequined Versace blazers and layers of diamond chains, pendants, bracelets and rings. For an extra touch, Quavo wore diamond initial rings spelling out his nickname “Huncho” across both hands.
8. Gisele Bündchen, 2018
Gisele Bündchen gave serious jewelry fans a thrill at the 2018 Met Gala when she sashayed up the red carpeted stairs in a Versace gown and a ginormous pair of diamond and gold hoops by the Italian wunderkind Alessandro Sabbatini of SABBA. A sighting of the super talent’s work is practically like seeing a unicorn. He does not have a social media account and is available exclusively at FD Gallery in New York City.
9. Nick Jonas, 2019
A white suit and white diamonds helped Nick Jonas represent for men who love diamonds during the 2019 Met Gala, where the singer accessorized his Dior suit with Chopard diamonds including an ear cuff, necklace, ring, and a timepiece featuring 38.30-carats of diamonds set in 18k white gold.
10. Gigi Hadid, 2019
Designer Michael Kors said the sequined and feathered look he created for Gigi Hadid to wear to the 2019 Met Gala was a blend of iconic styles of Cher, Liberace and Daisy Buchanan. The supermodel added more shine to the clothes with Lorraine Schwartz hoops set with 90-carats of diamonds. When describing the ensemble, Hadid said she wanted to “Create a look I couldn’t wear anywhere else, from lashes to fingertips, because that is what the Met Ball is about.”
11. Lewis Hamilton, 2019
Formula 1 star Lewis Hamilton mixed modern and vintage looks for the 2019 Met Gala in a way that only he can. For the event, he wore a metallic hand-embroidered Tommy Hilfiger jacket with diamond brooches that were hard to miss. The look also included layered bracelets, diamond rings, tiny earrings and a nose ring.
12. Lady Gaga, 2019
For the 2019 Met Gala celebrating “Camp: Notes on Fashion,” looks were more over-the-top than they have ever been in the history of the event. Queen of Camp, Lady Gaga wore four different outfits on the red carpet and one Tiffany necklace set with 28-carats of princess-cut diamonds and a gold butterfly accent from the 2019 Blue Book collection. The singer who was a co-host of the evening explained, “As Susan Sontag suggested in her 1964 essay, camp is above all a mode of enjoyment and appreciation. I chose to wear Tiffany’s solid gold butterfly, which is dressed in radiant diamonds, as the epitome of enjoyment and appreciation above all else.”
13.Gabrielle Union-Wade, 2021
Actress Gabrielle Union-Wade was a vision in white during the 2021 Met Gala. The beauty wore an intricate Iris van Herpen dress that took 1,400 hours to make and the show-stopping Diamond Spears necklace from Messika’s High Jewelry collection that featured 70.88 carats of pear shaped diamonds. Her jewelry look also included the Illusionnistes ring and the Wild Moon Ring.
14. Rihanna, 2021
No one works a Met Gala red carpet like Rihanna, and the superstar made yet another iconic fashion moment at the 2021 event with her Balenciaga by Demna Gvasalia outfit. The styling made her Bulgari High Jewelry necklace, complete with 267 carats of diamonds, the focus of the dramatic look.
15. Pete Davidson, 2021
Pete Davidson made his Met Gala debut at the 2021 event, pairing a Thom Browne black dress and tailored white blazer with jewelry from Fred Leighton and Kwiat. “Rebecca Selva from Fred Leighton had custom garnet and diamond teardrop lapel pins made for a suit jacket. I love unusual jewelry especially for an occasion as special as the Met. The floating teardrops were a representation of celebration and joy in this monumental moment for Pete,” Davidson’s stylist, Britt Theodora, told Vogue. His look also included a garnet line necklace and a diamond line necklace.