Fashion > Diamonds

Diamonds have been around for billions of years, some dating back to about 500 B.C. Large diamonds have gained popularity and status in recent years as the preferred engagement ring, and with the media covering celebrity’s hottest trends. What many don’t know is that the diamonds talked about in the media today are meager in comparison to the diamonds that have been discovered around the world.

Long before Ben gave Jen her huge 6ct ring, Richard Burton gave Elizabeth Taylor a pear shaped 69.42 ct diamond. Renamed the Taylor-Burton diamond, it originally weighed 240.80 carats before being purchased by Harry Winston and cut into two pieces. Elizabeth Taylor sold the diamond in 1978 to raise funds for a hospital in Botswana .

The Blue Hope, another of the world’s largest diamonds weighing 112 carats, was once owned by Louis XIV before it was stolen during the French Revolution. The Blue Hope Diamond is believed to carry a curse; two of the owners had their entire family die just one year apart. It now resides in the Smithsonian in Washington .

Of all the worlds largest diamonds, Cullinan I claims the title of the world’s largest cut diamond. It was cut by Asscher in Amsterdam and weighs 530.20 carats with an amazing 74 facets. The Cullinan I now resides in the Tower of London and is set in the scepter of King Edward VII.

These are just a few of the large diamonds that have been discovered in mines around the world. Beyond their beauty, these diamonds carry with them fascinating tales of their histories. Whether large or small, diamonds have grown to represent wealth, and elegance, and can be enjoyed by all.

In true Oscar tradition, the 2005 Academy Awards drew attention not only to the stars and their films, but to celebrity fashion. Clearly the biggest influence on attendees' clothing and jewelry styles was the successful film The Aviator, a biopic about late millionaire Howard Huges, starring Leanardo Di Carprio and Cate Blanchett. The film is set in 1930s and 1940s Hollywood, and the characters are adorned in classic "Old Hollywood" style - a trend repeated by star after star who walked down the Oscars red carpet.

Most celebrities attending the Oscars - especially the nominees - captured the style of the 30s and 40s with fine diamond jewelry and other big, sparkly, expensive gemstones. Ironically, most jewelry of the real Old Hollywood era, especially that manufactured during World War II, did not contain diamonds or even precious metals. It was the first true costume jewelry era, with glitzy necklaces, bracelets, brooches and earrings made with glass rhinestones and other imitation gems, often set in non-precious base metals.

The costume jewelry of the 30s and 40s typically was oversized - that is, the pieces were purposefully larger than their classic, fine-jewelry counterparts. But the 2005 Oscars saw lots of oversized 1940s-influenced designs featuring genuine diamonds and gems. According to reporter Claudia Parsons (writing for Reuters), some "jewels [were] so over the top they looked fake."

There were exceptions to the "real, not fake" rule at the awards, however. Take for example the humungous clear stone necklace worn by Beyonce in her performance of a song from the film Phantom of the Opera. This necklace was gigantic, with enormous stones in clusters surrounding her neck, with a separate (huge in itself) gemmed drop component that nearly reached her navel. Many post-Oscars commentators criticized Beyonce for wearing a "diamond" necklace that looked like a "chandelier" and was the largest "she could find."

In reality, this necklace did not belong to Beyonce and was not made of diamonds. It was custom-designed for the Phantom of the Opera film, where it was worn by actress Emmy Rossum - or by Minnie Driver, depending on the source. Its stones are Swarovski® crystal glass - not gemstones at all. According to New York Post Online Edition, the necklace was flown from its home in Paris to Los Angeles specially for Beyonce's Academy Awards performance.

Some other eye-catching jewels worn to the 2005 Oscars:
- Cate Blenchett wore a yellow diamond and emerald brooch by designer Lorraine Schwartz at the upper corner of her dress. It's reported value is $250,000.

- Drew Barrymore also wore a Lorraine Schwartz brooch with diamonds, valued at $65,000. (Drew wore the brooch on the back of her dress. Hopefully this didn't cause her too much pain when she had to sit in a high-backed chair.)

-Natalie Portman wore a diamond-encrusted head band in her hair (value not available).

-Penelope Cruz wore yellow diamond earrings, a yellow diamond ring and a pair of emerald-cut diamond bracelets by Chopard (value not available).

-Ziyi Zhang, an award presenter, wore a multi-layer Y-necklace encrusted with diamonds by Bulgari (value not available).

-Depending on the source, Scarlett Johansson donned either a jeweled 19th-century tiara by Fred Leighton - or a set of three vintage brooches in her hair (value not available).

-Kate Winslet wore long multi-diamond and coordinating wide-linked bracelets (which almost looked like cuffs), designed by Neil Lane. Rumor has it that the matching jewels adorning Kate's gown were also by Neil Lane. (According to People, the jewelry wasn't completed until the night before the Oscars ceremony.)

-Emmy Rossum wore a classically designed, yet showy, ruby and diamond necklace with matching earrings by Harry Winston (value unavailable).

- Beyonce wore gigantic jeweled chandelier earrings (probably genuine diamonds) when she arrived at the ceremony and walked the red carpet. These were designed by Lorraine Schwartz (value not available).

Beyonce wasn't the only girl at the Oscars donning oversized, glitzy chandelier earrings. Giant jeweled chandeliers in various geometric shapes, many encrusted with genuine diamonds, were everywhere. Most were long enough to dust the shoulders of their glamorous wearers. (Is this definitive evidence that chandeliers are still in fashion? Perhaps . . .).

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