Oscar jewelry: what I would wear on the red carpet

I don’t hold out much hope of tripping down a red carpet in this lifetime – did I say trip? That’s probably exactly what would happen. Hollywood is not calling my name and it wouldn’t matter anyway. In my fantasy world, I’d be up for something unglamorous like writing a script or producing a documentary. Let’s face it, the Oscar spotlight is on the actresses.

But man, what I would give to have their pick of jewels for the big night! How many times have you watched the red carpet coverage and thought, “Really. That’s the best you could do?” That invisible diamond stud? Where is the lariat necklace for that plunging neckline! Where is the bracelet stack on those lovely slender arms?!

Girl. This is your chance. Even if you don’t bring home the statue, and you know you probably won’t, you could make a star out of a designer or two – and a name for yourself in the process.

If we have to be self-serving – and who doesn’t? It’s a jungle out there! – you might as well use your 15 minutes of fame to attract some serious media attention. That award you’re nominated for may go to someone else, but wear something interesting with a great story, and the media will be talking about you the next day. Maybe even a year later.

Margot Robbie wears a Van Cleef & Arpels Zip necklace at the Academy Awards Show on February 22, 2015

Margot Robbie wears a Van Cleef & Arpels Zip necklace at the 2015 Academy Awards

Look what happened with Margot Robbie. How many people had even heard of this Australian actress before she strolled into the room last year with a sapphire fringe pendant dangling from a gold zipper designed by Van Cleef & Arpels? If you have to borrow jewels for the Oscars, why not borrow a quirky classic with a fascinating backstory?

Or maybe a one-of-a-kind jewel, made by hand by a talented but less-known living designer? Maybe something with unusual colored gemstones? Look how much attention pieces by Lorraine Schwartz always get.

My advice to actresses who get the big invite of the year – and the stylists who dress them – is to take the concept of “statement jewelry” literally. Make a statement that generates statements! Wear a piece of jewelry that will have everybody buzzing on social media (under the #oscarjewelry hashtag): “What IS that necklace/bracelet/earring she’s wearing?”

Examples? Okay, let’s just pretend that actress is… me. Here are the statements I’m considering for my next red carpet walk.


One-of-a-kind chandelier earrings of rainbow moonstone and diamonds in palladium white gold by Rachael SARC of NYC

One-of-a-kind chandelier earrings of rainbow moonstone and diamonds in palladium white gold by Rachael SARC of NYC

Pilato quartz earrings

My own quartz crystal earrings by Mariella Pilato in one of those closeups people tweet live, asking who designed those…


Munsteiner aquamarine set

Reverse-cut aquamarine pendant and ring from Atelier Munsteiner of Idar-Obarstein

Aquamarine rings by Petra Class

One of these aquamarine rings by Petra Class would make a statement. Imagine what four would do!

Rings and bracelets by Armenta. Oops, I forgot to take the pricetag off before the Oscars. So like me.

Rings and bracelets (with components cast from ancient artifacts) by Armenta


Zobel cuff

Cuff by Atelier Zobel of reverse-cut morganite with flush-set diamonds in gold with platinum inlay


Todd Reed belt

Belt buckle and cuff by Todd Reed of gold, oxidized sterling and diamonds. Picture this with a form-fitting black sheath.

Belt buckle and bracelet by Todd Reed of gold, oxidized sterling and diamonds, I tried on last month. Picture this with a form-fitting black sheath.

(There’s an idea! How often do we see a statement belt on the red carpet – let alone one by Todd Reed?)

Think of the fun I could have with the red carpet interviews about any of these pieces. “Is that a diamond?” No, it’s quartz crystal… reverse-cut aquamarine … morganite…

“Whose jewelry are you wearing?” Oh, this is just a little thing I picked up at auction… the Tucson Gem Shows … a studio jeweler’s studio.

“Was it loaned?” Nope. I collect this designer. Hey, I was paid a million bucks for my last movie, why shouldn’t I buy my own jewelry?!

For all the actresses pondering their next red carpet move, here are a few places to start: RachaelSARC, Mariella Pilato, Atelier Munsteiner, Petra Class, Armenta, Atelier Zobel, Todd Reed. You’re welcome.

All photos recently taken by (and mostly on) yours truly, © Cathleen McCarthy

7 comments for “Oscar jewelry: what I would wear on the red carpet

  1. February 29, 2016 at 4:52 am

    Spoke too soon! There actually *was* a statement belt on the red carpet tonight – a bejeweled one on a Gucci gown worn by Brie Larson, who won best actress for Room. She looked fabulous.

  2. Amanda Rubin
    February 29, 2016 at 5:23 pm

    I love Mariella Pilato’s earrings. Her work is so chic. So glad you included her work.

  3. March 3, 2016 at 11:28 am

    I like priynka chopra style the most

  4. March 11, 2016 at 5:06 pm

    Damn, I wish I could get to the Oscars and wear this stuff!

  5. March 28, 2016 at 12:16 am

    Fantastic post Cathleen, and what a delicious fantasy! My red carpet fantasy would revolve around a strapless, pink champagne-colored Zac Posen ball gown accessorized with a demi-parure of pink sapphires and diamonds from Bayco, or perhaps a ivory satin Dior from the 1950s, with a huge, Art Deco carved emerald and diamond necklace from Diamond Scene on 1stDibs (it costs more than the house I grew up in!)or maybe I’d wear a luminous silver charmeuse gown and have Hutton Wilkinson, the designer for Tony Duquette custom-create a fantasia of blue flash moonstones silvery South Sea pearls, pale Ceylon sapphires and diamonds in platinum as a necklace with matching earrings. But I haven’t been thinking about this too much!

  6. March 28, 2016 at 4:16 am

    Wow, those are some vivid images! You’ve gone one step further with this fantasy – actually three – and added the gown. I guess you can’t really choose jewels for the red carpet without having an entire ensemble, but I’m out of my depth there. I’m starting with the jewelry. My stylist will have to add the gown(s) accordingly.

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