Jewellery in Cinema part 1

Breakfast at Tiffany's - Audrey Hepburn wearing Givenchy
Audrey Hepburn


As you maybe saw on JewelryAround Instagram page I had my first Instagram live with Simona Nicolosi, Milanese jewelry designer of the brand MayMoma, about the jewelry in cinema.

We decided to bring live and share with you our friendly chat that we had about this topic and who know maybe we can continue this beautiful topic ad continue our live together if you like.

We will talk about films with memorable jewels, actresses and their weaknesses for jewelry collections, and jewelers who have specialised, up to the present day, in the design of jewelry for cinema, including the largest jewelry brands of the moment.

the discussion will be in Italian, so I decide to give you a summary of what we have talked about here in English.

Audrey Hepburn in the Breakfast at Tiffany's
Audrey Hepburn in the Breakfast at Tiffany's

Presenting jewelries in the movies always has been one of the product placement strategy that was also has been discussed years ago at the OroArezzo fair, It is considered an alternative form of promotion of a jewel that uses movies as a communication tool and product promotion. Of course to do it right it depends on several different factors such as choice of the target (for the most precious and "antique" taste jewels a costume film is more suitable, to promote a trendy product you can think of a film aimed for younger generation), choice of the market of interest of the movie, getting to know the viewers of the films and in which countries or through which companies will be screened. Then is the time to study the ways of inserting the product, from the way of presenting it (worn by the main protagonist which is more suitable for the established brands) to the filming of the sequences in the places of production and so on.

I just wanted to give you a hint about this strategy, of course it is a topic that needs a lot more time and I don't want to get in detail here because it is not our main topic and I am no expert in advertising marketing.

Getting back to our subject, Jewellery in Cinema, It is difficult to understand where to start given such a large universe.

We decided that today we start with some of the great fashion houses such as Chanel, Dior and Givenchy with Simona who, being a designer and a fan of fashion jewels, can well explain the relationship between the designers and the protagonists.


Starting from the 20-30s that there were many actresses who wore their jewelry on the set. Often the jewels they owned had nothing to do with the time or environment in which the scene was set, but most of the records accepted the whims of the actress. As for example MARLENE DIETRICH; for those who do not know her she was a German/American actress and singer, one of the best known in the cinema world of the first half of the twentieth century.

No Dior, no Dietrich.

The phrase has become famous. Marlene Dietrich said it in the negotiations for Alfred Hitchcock's film "Stage Fright" of 1950. The actress agreed to act in the film only on one condition that the clothes were designed by the famous fashion house. Hitchcock accepted Marlene's whims, because he knew that "glamor" could have been a great success to his film.

In those years, Marlene Dietrich had become a Hollywood diva and her style was fashionable.

She had a particular passion for jewelry: perhaps it had flowed in her veins since she was a little girl in Berlin in the 1920s. The mother of the German diva, in fact, was the owner of a jewelry shop in the time considered the most glamorous street of the this capital.

Marlene Dietrich collected jewels, many of which were a gift from her admirers and spouses. An example is the magnificent rose-shaped brooch made of platinum and diamonds, which was one of her favorite brooches. According to her family, Dietrich wore it in several highly successful films, such as The Blue Angel and Shanghai Express and in other events with heads of state, celebrities, and Hollywood experts.

Marlene was famous not only for her work as an actress, but also for her style and her splendid jewels that she knew how to combine perfectly. Hollywood followed her down to the smallest detail and her style created a real trend. Many of her jewels were made on special commission by renowned jewelers such as Paul Flato, Fulco di Verdura, Mauboussin and Van Cleef & Arpels.

When she accepted to act in a film, the diva placed as a condition to personally choose her wardrobe and jewelry. So in this way she could use her absolutely  magnificent collection.

One of the most important gems that appeared in her films was a jarretière bracelet of rubies and diamonds made by Van Cleef & Arpels in 1937.

Considered a 1930s design masterpiece, consisting of a large bow decorated with rows of cushion-cut rubies, surrounded by baguette and round diamonds, the bracelet has become one of Louis Arpels' most emblematic creations. Dietrich loved this jewel and made it part of her life. 

Chanel & Visconti

Another interesting story from the 1930s is certainly that of Luchino Visconti who arrives in Paris, the artistic, intellectual and political capital of the pre-war period. When he meets Gabrielle Chanel, he is immediately fascinated by her charm. Between the then neo-director and the French fashion designer it was the love at first sight. It is in fact Gabrielle who has help him with his career, convincing his director friend (Jean Renoir) to hire Visconti on the set for his next film. Renoir accepts the bet and makes the young trainee his assistant.

Luchino Visconti was an esthete of cinema. One of those who put style first and make films that convey its importance. It revolutionized the art of talking about fashion in cinema. "Luchino Visconti was the king of non-standard costumes,"

In his series of films set in the 19th century, Luchino filled the sideboards with vintage vases, even though he knew that they would later be cut from the filming during the editing. He wanted his actresses to wear vintage underwear, even if they weren't scenes in which they had to be undressed. He had a real obsession with costumes, Visconti's costumes always embody the era they belong to.

The collaboration of Coco Chanel and Luchino Visconti is a joy for the eyes: in Boccaccio 70 thanks to the splendid Romy Schneider, the Chanel universe appears in every single scene, from clothes and bags, through pearls and two-tone shoes to perfume N ° 5, becoming its absolute protagonist. From the golden age of Hollywood to the Nouvelle Vague and continuing towards avant-garde cinema: the imprint of Gabrielle Chanel in the film is indelible.


Givenchy & Hepburn.

Of course always in these years and talking about movies and jewelries we cannot forget how Givenchy's friendship with Audrey Hepburn changed fashion, because the synergy between Hepburn and Givenchy created some of the most sensational looks in the history of cinema.

Although perhaps her most iconic style remains the black cocktail dress worn in Breakfast at Tiffany's, It is a pity that the actress wears the necklace, signed Tiffany & Co. Audrey exhibits the 128.54 carat Tiffany Diamond, mounted on a necklace by Tiffany jeweler Jean Schlumberger. The necklace actually seen around Holly Golightly's neck in the film is an imitation of lesser value, the work of French jewelry designer Roger Scemama.

Audrey Hepburn in the Breakfast at Tiffany's

Audrey Hepburn in the Breakfast at Tiffany's

Another pearl accessory very dear to the actress was the earrings.

"A man is judged by the earrings he gives you," She always said in the film Breakfast at Tiffany's. Even this jewel, worn by the undisputed style icon, has become one of those "textbook" accessories that cannot be missing in the jewelry box of an elegant woman.

The bond between the actress and the couturier was much more than a sartorial partnership. As their careers took off, their friendship was turning into "a kind of marriage", or so Givenchy described it. This exquisitely glamorous couple was often photographed while having dinner together in Paris, at Roman parties or at a gala evening.

Audrey said: "Givenchy’s clothes are the only ones in which I feel myself. He is more than a designer, he is a creator of personality”. She also wore Givenchy for her second wedding and all her most important events thereafter. Though Givenchy also dressed other celebrities, such as Jackie Kennedy, Lauren Bacall, and the Duchess of Windsor, his style was most closely associated with Hepburn.

In the 60s not only the little black dress became a cult object but, together with it, also the pearls that are used to create necklaces, brooches and clip earrings.

In the same years the designer launches a line of bijoux capable of bringing the charm of dream images out of the cinematographic film and therefore in real life. They are linear jewels, never exaggerated, suitable for an equally linear and sober dress.

He was known for using beautiful rhinestones, polished glass, various plated metals, and faux pearls to make his pieces stand out.  Givenchy also signed his pieces with a stamp and a logo on the clasps of the metal pieces, showing that it was one of his genuine creations.  It’s this signature and the classic designs that he used that make his pieces so collectible.

Did you like the topic of our first live chat with Simona on Jewellery Around?

Don't miss the next episode, there will be much more about the world of cinema and jewelry.

I think the next part will be about the Art Deco!


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