American Dream: Jewels of the Met Gala 2021

Vogue described this year’s Met Gala as “dripping in diamonds” and it’s easy to see why. Celebrities, models, TikTok stars and politicians graced the beige-coloured carpet in creative ensembles, accessorized with De Beers, Harry Winston, Messika and Bulgari to name but a few. This year’s theme was “American Independence” and the looks spanned 1950s Americana, ‘Old Hollywood’, cowboy chic and even homages to American pop culture. Here is a selection of the best bejewelled looks on this year’s youthful Met Gala red carpet.

If you’re not familiar with the Met Gala, here is a quick lesson. It’s a fashionable frenzy designed to raise funds for New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, promote The Costume Institute’s latest exhibit “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion” and draw attention to the dizzying world of 21st century celebrity. Controversially, this year, TikTok stars were welcomed into the fold… but only those who can afford the $35,000 price of a single seat! This year’s American-themed gala was co-chaired by singer Billie Eilish, actor Timothée Chalamet, poet Amanda Gorman and tennis pro, Naomi Osaka, and it took place in September, not the typical ‘first weekend in May’ as is customary, due to the impact of COVID-19.

Now that we have the context, let’s move on to the jewels! Colourless diamonds were undoubtedly the gemmological winner of this year’s event, but you will be pleased to hear they were used creatively, innovatively and with a tongue-in-cheek air that prevented them from looking staid. Let’s start with the co-chair herself, Billie Eilish, who wore lashings of Cartier rings and bracelets in a style worthy of my mismatched rings article. Her Oscar de la Renta gown and nod to Marilyn Monroe singing “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” were a treat for the eyes… even if the same can’t be said for her jewellery styling. There were some subtler takes though, like Carey Mulligan wearing a single Cartier diamond earring with her bright pink dress and Zoe Kravitz who wore two pairs of mixed-cut diamond earrings by Jessica McCormack.

At the Met Gala 2021 from left to right: Michaela Coel in Nikos Koulis, Tracee Ellis Ross in Tiffany & Co., and Amanda Gorman in Chopard with a crown by Jennifer Behr

Note these latter two trends, as they were a common sight on this year’s Met Gala carpet. The power of a single earring was also demonstrated by actress and writer Michaela Coel in Nikos Koulis, while actress Julia Garner wore two identical pairs of Harry Winston earrings in her first and second piercings, much like Zoe Kravitz.

Perhaps we must resign ourselves, however, to the “more is more” mentality. After all, if this year’s trendsetting Met Gala is anything to go by, the maximalist approach to jewellery dressing is here to stay. Just look to Rhianna who wore more than 267 carats of Bulgari diamonds, including three necklaces, alongside a diamond ring by Thelma West and ear cuffs, studs and drops by Maria Tash. Speaking of Bulgari, let’s just zoom in on some of the treasures on display. Rihanna, of course, wore contemporary high jewellery and heritage pieces, including a high jewellery necklace with nine pear-cut diamonds, 107 round brilliant-cut diamonds and pavé-set diamonds. Model Lily Aldridge also wore Bulgari, including a Serpenti Viper bracelet with 15.03 carats of diamonds, as did actress Eiza Gonzalez who chose high jewellery with rubies, sapphires and marquise, pear and round-cut diamonds.

Rihanna at the Met Gala 2021 wearing over 267 carats of diamonds with Bulgari High Jewellery and archival designs

It’s true that the shape of diamonds appeared to matter little at this year’s Met Gala; celebrities chose cacophonous arrays of cuts, shapes and carat weights and layered them together. Look to Alicia Keys in Van Cleef & Arpels; actresses Emily Blunt and Gabrielle Union in Messika; actress Tracee Ellis Ross in Tiffany & Co.; and actress Gemma Chan in a 47.84 carat Winston Cluster Wreath necklace by Harry Winston.

Unsurprisingly considering the American Independence theme, New York jeweller, Harry Winston, was a big hit among this year’s Met Gala attendees. Actress Regina King wore a multitude of Winston rings and earrings, in addition to an 18k yellow gold timepiece; actress Zoey Deutch wore Harry Winston Diamond Link earrings of 3.22 carats, set in platinum; actress Rose Leslie wore the sapphire and diamond Cascade earrings with 23.03 carats, two Diamond Straight Line bracelets of nearly 20 carats and two rings with a further five carats. 

At the Met Gala 2021 from left to right: Zoey Deutch wearing a pair of Harry Winston Diamond Link earrings and Regina King in Harry Winston diamonds and an Emerald timepiece

Another brand that dominated was De Beers, who decked Lupita Nyong’o, Rita Ora, Eva Chen and Karlie Kloss in diamonds. The latter wore the De Beers Aria High Jewellery earrings with 19.47 carats of colourless diamonds in white gold. Actress Lupita Nyong’o described her look as ‘denim and diamonds,’ as it included a staggering 143.60 carats across three necklaces, a pair of earrings, three rings and two bracelets. Fortunately, the styling maintained a feeling of elegance, which juxtaposed perfectly with the typically casual denim fabrication of her gown.  

In an attempt to summarise the rest, there were jewels galore from Ana Khouri Jewelry, worn by models Joan Smalls, Paloma Elsesser and Anok Yai; gymnast Nia Dennis; American soccer player Megan Rapinoe; and actresses Keke Palmer and MJ Rodriguez. Of particular note is Anok Yai who looked sensational in the Tourmaline Chain High Jewellery necklace. This injection of vibrant coloured gemstones was a welcome reprieve from all the colourless diamonds, which is perhaps why I am obsessed with two women in particular, model Iman and actress Diane Kruger. The former wore shapely multi-tonal citrine and diamond earrings by Fred Leighton, while the latter wore a knockout pair of TASAKI Atelier Season 3 collection earrings with rainbows of coloured gemstones and golden pearls… both deserve a special mention for simply daring to be different!

Elsewhere, there was American theatre producer Jordan Roth wearing a Lydia Courteille ring, rapper Megan Thee Stallion wearing the Fernando Jorge Galaxy ring, and Bee Carrozzini – the daughter of Vogue’s Anna Wintour – wearing an antique cushion-cut rock crystal necklace from A La Vieille Russie.

At the Met Gala 2021 from left to right: Rapper Megan Thee Stallion in earrings by Hanut Singh, and Bee Carrozzini in an antique cushion-cut rock crystal necklace from A La Vieille Russie

And let’s not forget the gentleman. Co-chair Timothée Chalamet wore two 1928 Cartier brooches (tracing back to the maison’s New York workshop) attached to the waist of his Haider Ackermann suit; singer Frank Ocean wore a necklace from Homer, his new jewellery brand; actor Kit Harrington wore the Harry Winston Midnight 42mm Automatic timepiece in 18K white gold, and comedian Pete Davidson opted for diamonds by Fred Leighton and Kwiat.

What stands out about this year’s Met Gala is a sense of bejewelled enjoyment. Whether the individual pieces or the way in which they were layered and styled appeals to you or not, it’s clear that high jewellery is now part of the recipe for red carpet dressing with far fewer rules and far more individuality. Surely that’s something to celebrate!

Send enquiry about featured jewellery.