The Best & the Worst Jewelry at the 2012 Academy Awards

There were all manner of wonderful jewels adorning the celebrities at Sunday’s 84th Annual Academy Awards. A wide range of styles and sensibilities were represented, from archival antique pieces, such as the Fred Leighton yellow gold earrings worn by best actress winner Meryl Streep with her sparkling golden Lanvin gown, to the very newest of designs, notably including emerald earrings customized literally the night before the Oscars by designer Lorraine Schwartz for best actress nominee Viola Davis.

Viola Davis also wore a wide, shaped diamond cuff  by Lorraine Schwartz that highlighted the asymmetrical design of her gorgeous green Vera Wang gown. Another wide diamond cuff of similar shape but very different design detail, the Hearts of Winter cuff by Anna Hu Haute Joaillerie, added the final touch to an elegant Tom Ford dress and cape ensemble worn by Gwyneth Paltrow that put her at the top of best-dressed lists.

Along with her diamond cuff, Gwyneth Paltrow wore the Duchess Hibiscus Ring from Anna Hu, one of several substantial rings that made a statement on the red carpet. Sandra Bullock wore an unmatched pair of gem-studded yellow gold statement rings from Lorraine Schwartz that beautifully echoed the elaborate design of the golden appliqués on her black and white Marchesa gown.

Matching jewels convey a sense of elegance merited by the Academy Awards, and classic styles in diamonds and other gemstones were present in abundance. A stand-out on the red carpet was Jessica Chastain in a gown of gold-embellished black from Alexander McQueen accompanied by exquisite suite of yellow diamond jewelry from Harry Winston.

The ingénue was represented stylistically by several actresses, notably Michelle Williams, exceptionally lovely in a peplum-accented gown of bright coral by Louis Vuitton accented with a diamond  riviere necklace from Fred Leighton for Forevermark and an antique Fred Leighton diamond bow brooch at her waist.

Another actress of gamine proportions, Natalie Portman, wore a charming vintage Dior polka-dotted gown, ingénue perfection, accompanied inexplicably by dowager jewels in the form of an enormous and spectacular diamond necklace from Harry Winston  that did nothing for the dress or the woman wearing it.

Emma Stone wore a Giambattista Valli Couture red gown with a huge bow at her neck, and underwhelmed with ruby Louis Vuitton drop earrings that appeared overly intricate and out of scale next to the vast bow although she wore an intricate and substantial “chain-link fence” bracelet from the same jewelry designer that accented her dress beautifully. Rubies have been under-utilized at recent red carpet events; it may be time for designers to pull out the big red stones for just this circumstance.

My choice for least successful jewelry were the huge and exquisite opal and diamond drop earrings from Irene Neuwirth worn by Busy Phillips to accompany a gown of grey lace from Dolce & Gabbana. The earrings clashed in both style and color with the dress. How extraordinary the earrings could have been with the right dress! The overall failure of the look was heightened by bright pink shoes that coordinated with nothing else Phillips wore.

Was there any bad jewelry at the Academy Awards?  Nary a piece. But there were certainly instances of beautiful jewelry badly styled.

You can find large photos of all these celebrities in their jewels at: