See ‘The Favourite’—It’s Basically a Pearl Jewelry Orgy

Here’s hoping your Boxing Day is quiet—i.e., you’re closed, you’re closing early, and/or have little to handle as far as returns. If you do have some downtime, consider seeing the critically acclaimed movie The Favourite, directed by Yorgos Lanthimos and starring Olivia Colman as Queen Anne, Rachel Weisz as Duchess of Marlborough Sarah Churchill, and Emma Stone as Abigail Hill. You’ll find that it’s superbly acted, costumed, and accessorized, and a pretty naughty way to spend a few hours.

The official trailer for The Favourite (courtesy of Fox Searchlight)

Pearl jewelry is used as abundantly on set as is the C-word throughout the script. What’s interesting is that Academy Award–winning costume designer Sandy Powell, who also looked after such exquisite triumphs of period fashion/jewelry as Shakespeare in Love, Far From Heaven, The Aviator, and Carol, freely admits (to Vulture and Entertainment Weekly) that she wasn’t going for authenticity. The movie is set in 1708 England, and yet the servants’ costumes are made of salvaged denim. The goal, says Powell, was to create a “punk version” of a sumptuous period piece, with liberties taken, and a generally libertine aesthetic pervading the party and hunting scenes, in particular. The rest of the film takes place almost exclusively in the queen’s bedchambers.

The Favourite Queen Anne bedroom
Favourite palette: primarily black and white (photo courtesy of Fox Searchlight)

Powell favored a largely black-and-white palette—historically inaccurate, but helpful in visually communicating the hierarchy at court and what happens when a lady’s maid ascends in status (spoiler: plain black frocks explode into the flashy “vulgarity of nouveau riche”).

The Favourite starring Olivia Colman
Pearls are ubiquitous in The Favourite (photo courtesy of Fox Searchlight).

Pearls play an important role in this technique, with the most humongous strands and pendant earrings reserved for Queen Anne—you can almost feel the weight of them around her neck. Abigail’s jewelry—simple faux pearl drops on French wires, a delicate strand—are dwarfed in comparison but, like her gowns, become more opulent and engorged as the plot thickens.

Below, some “favourites” that give a flavor of the shapes, sizes, and colors on view.


Assael three strand necklace with diamonds
Three-strand necklace of akoya pearls with diamond necklace, Assael
Donna DiStefano pearl earrings
Pearl drop earrings, Donna Distefano
Erica Courtney snow pendant Tahitian pearls with green beryl
Snow pendant with green beryl and diamonds on Tahitian pearls, Erica Courtney
Jewelmer South Sea pearls
Golden South Sea pearl necklace, Jewelmer
Mazza pearl cross pendant
Pearl cross pendant with aquamarine and baroque pearls, Mazza
Mizuki pearl earrings
Black pearl and diamond earrings on French wire hooks, Mizuki
Oscar de la Renta earrings
Oscar de la Renta faux pearl and Swarovski crystal drop earrings, Net-a-Porter

There are also a number of tropes, details, and memorable moments that I’ve recapped—in jewelry form—below. I’ll try not to reveal too much, but stop reading if you now if you want to be completely surprised!

Vintage Van Cleef Arpels duck ring
All you need to know: duck racing. Vintage Van Cleef & Arpels duck ring with emeralds, rubies, and gold, Revival Jewels.
Solange Partridge love heart hotlips ring
The fashion at court (for men and women): rouged hearts on cheeks. Love Heart Hotlips ring, Solange.
Sanjay Kasliwal Gem palace fan earrings
Nearly every updo is accented with a fan-shaped ornament. Indo-Russian fan earrings with sapphires, pearls, and diamonds, Sanjay Kasliwal.


Alison Nagasue bunny pendant
Rabbits are key to understanding Queen Anne’s backstory. Silver bunny pendant, Alison Nagasue.


Royal Chain gold tassel necklace
Keys to Queen Anne’s chambers dangle from a sparkly gold chain. Gold tassel necklace, Royal Chain.


Etsy black lace choker
Lady Sarah favors black lace chokers and face-shielding kerchiefs, several of which can be found on Etsy.
Aida Bergsen looking glass pendant
Queen Anne makes frequent use of a magnifying glass. Looking glass pendant in diamonds and gold, Aida Bergsen.


Alison Lou checkered cuff
Shades of Queen Anne’s ermine-covered robe and the tile floor where she addresses her court. Checker cuff in black and white enamel, Alison Lou.


1st Dibs Madeira citrine pineapple brooch
One of The Favourite‘s memorable lines makes reference to this tropical fruit. Vintage Madeira citrine and diamond pendant brooch, .

Top: Emma Stone plays maid-on-the-make Abigail Hill in The Favourite (photo courtesy of Fox Searchlight).

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Amy Elliott

JCK Contributing Editor

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