The Oscars may have snubbed the Diamond District crime drama Uncut Gems, but don’t think that made the jewelry seen on Sunday’s red carpet austere.
In case you forgot that the Academy Awards exist to reward glamorous, beautiful people, plenty of the night’s guests were there to remind us all that they’re rich—or at least swathed in six figures’ worth of diamonds.
Indeed, the helpful E! fashion panel revealed that Regina King wore $500,000 worth of Harry Winston diamonds, along with her Versace gown hand-embroidered with Swarovski crystals.
Of her sparkling diamond collar necklace, Mindy Kaling told Ryan Seacrest, “There is a man here, a security guard, to make sure that nothing happens to this.”
Idina Menzel, who played Adam Sandler’s long-suffering wife in Uncut Gems, paired a (relatively) simple strapless fuchsia chiffon dress with a teardrop necklace from Harry Winston. Julia Louis-Dreyfus upped her pared-down Vera Wang slip dress with gems from the so-called jeweler to the stars.
Greta Gerwig, director of Little Women, matched some big-as-hell emeralds with her olive couture Dior frock.
She must have been in a “Let’s Wear Diamonds” group chat with two of her March sisters, Florence Pugh and Saoirse Ronen. Both actresses, who are nominated, opted for statement-making jewels.
Salma Hayek went classical in a Gucci toga-esque dress, adding a floral headpiece from the French luxury house Boucheron (wouldn’t you?).
Best Actress nominee Cynthia Erivo had an off-the-shoulder Versace gown, so necklaces were off-limits. But don’t worry, she wore ice cube-sized rings on seven out of her ten fingers, and daisy-patterned earrings.
In custom Ralph Lauren, Janelle Monáe channeled disco Joan of Arc, wearing a ball gown not of the traditional tulle, but 168,000 Swarovski crystals. She looked like she was floating, but for anyone else, just walking around under something so heavy would be a feat of physicality.
Booksmart’s Kaitlyn Dever, an ambassador for Red Carpet Green Dress, sauntered in an ethically-sourced Louis Vuitton, crimson red like the tips of her chandelier earrings.
Many of these looks communicated bombshell, with members of the E! panel dubbing the vintage style diamonds “old Hollywood.” Not so on Billie Eilish, the 18-year-old recent Grammy winner, who flashed her penne-length black manicure for the cameras. At the center of each nail, a rhinestone detail.
All this delicious maximalism could be viewed as a (decorated) middle finger to recent reports that millennials are buying fewer diamonds. Thirteen years ago, Blood Diamond was nominated, and the film inspired many viewers to become skeptical about the ethics of jewel mining.
De Beers sales have floundered in recent years, though sales are recovering. But of course, the Oscars are about fantasy—not eschewing a giant engagement ring purchase to invest in something so prosaic as a mortgage.
Those at home watching E! were treated to recurring, strangely intense advertisements from the Diamond Producers Association, a global group of mining companies. “Before there was life, there was diamonds,” a narrator breathed over a montage of burning coal and an embracing couple.
It may have been a lot of cinema for a 45-second spot, but it rammed one point home. Post Time’s Up, post “Ask Her More” than “Who are you wearing,” the Oscars are still about glamour—almost defiantly so.