Monochrome Magic: Diamonds and Pearls at the Met Gala 2023

Black, white and bright sparks of red were the unifying theme of this year's Met Gala, which saw celebrities from far and wide celebrate the life of Karl Lagerfeld, the late artistic director of Chanel, through the lens of high fashion. High jewellery was present in the form of pearls, pearls and more pearls, coupled with diamond chokers, drop earrings, matching cuffs and cocktail rings. Let's look at some of the best jewellery at the Met Gala 2023, hosted by Vogue and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

The theme of the 2023 Met Gala was "Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty," which appeared to give the famous faces in attendance permission to choose one of four options: a homage to Chanel, a celebration of Parisian chic, a kitsch take on Karl Lagerfeld's passions, or something splashy and brightly coloured! Joking aside, this year's Met Gala was bursting with monochromatic black and white ensembles featuring strings of Coco Chanel's iconic pearls, gamine Parisian fringes, and layered diamond rows tucked behind collars and nestled in lace.

Bulgari High Jewellery pearl and diamond necklace worn by Rihanna at the MET Gala 23

Precious Pearls 

Let's start with pearls… lots of them! Reality star Kim Kardashian pushed the aesthetic to its limits by draping herself in more than 50,000 freshwater pearls as part of a Schiaparelli ensemble. She added a choker, pearl drop earrings and a ring to complete the look, which reportedly required some 1,000 hours of stringing and draping to perfectly fit her body. Tennis star Serena Williams also opted for multiple strands of pearls, this time from Tiffany & Co., while Karlie Kloss emphasised her figure with pearls by Garrard & Co. 

Pearls were also used in more nuanced ways. Florence Pugh wore two pairs of pearl and diamond earrings from the Tiffany & Co. Jazz and Victoria lines and a pearl and diamond tennis bracelet in platinum, also from the brand. Salma Hayek looked vibrant in deep red leather and lace with pearl shoulder details and a pair of Lorraine Schwartz earrings. Model Ashley Graham looked sensational in corseted baby pink and black velvet, accessorised with Mikimoto asymmetric pearl earrings, while Brooklyn Decker wowed in the Bubble Pearl tiara by Sean Gilson for Assael, paired with long strands of Assael Akoya and Tahitian pearls.

Delightful Diamonds

One of the best ways to maintain a sleek monochromatic ensemble is to choose diamond adornments. The Met Gala 2023 red carpet was dripping in colourless stones, some understated and others extravagantly outsized. The talking point is singer Dua Lipa, who wore a Tiffany & Co. necklace set with 200 carats of diamonds, including an enormous radiant-cut diamond pendant. The piece was perfectly harmonious with the neckline of her archival Chanel dress and her additional jewels, including a nine-carat ring with three oval-cut diamonds, also from Tiffany & Co.

MET Gala attendee Dua Lipa wearing a white gold and diamond necklace by Tiffany & Co. featuring 200-cts of diamonds

Diamonds were also worn extensively in Choker form, making this one of the standout jewellery trends of the entire Met Gala. Lily James opted for De Beers Jewellery, Irina Shayk wore Ana Khouri, and Rihanna created her own version of the 'neck mess' in Bulgari jewels set with five pear-shaped diamonds, 118 Akoya cultured pearls, seven pear-shaped diamonds, 109 round diamonds and a further 561 fancy cuts. Let's not forget some other chokers on the night, including Lea Michele in Jacob & Co, Fred Leighton and Kwiat, Kerry Washington in Mikimoto, and Miranda Kerr in Dior.

If not a choker, then collar-skimming rows of diamonds, bib necklaces, rivières, or lariats were the order of the day. Many were neatly pointed down the decolletage, like the new Cartier Le Voyage Recommencé High Jewellery necklace worn by Lily Collins in platinum, onyx and diamonds. This is a good sneak peek of what's to come from the brand later this year! Michelle Yeoh also wore Cartier in a similar style but with a significantly sized diamond drop.

MET Gala attendees Michelle Yeoh & Lily Collins in diamond High Jewellery necklaces by Cartier

Earrings took a slight backseat at this year's Met Gala, but there were some stunning examples on display, nonetheless. Emily Blunt looked elegant in Piaget's Limelight Sunny Side of Life earrings, plus a suite of other Piaget jewels, while Viola Davis wowed in hot pink feathers and Boucheron diamonds. And, as one might expect, there were celebs decked head-to-toe in Chanel for the occasion, notably Penélope Cruz and Naomi Campbell. We especially like the winding bracelets that Campbell placed on her forearm and wrists to complement her gown's Grecian, flowing shape.

Subtle Colour

As colourful gowns wound their way onto the red carpet, so too did coloured gemstone jewels. However, more often than not, the colour was subtle, pastel and barely there, like watercolour washes on canvas. Kate Moss accessorised her baby pink Fendi gown with a Tiffany & Co. necklace from 1997, plus a pair of drop earrings and an 11-carat cocktail ring, both set with morganites. Priyanka Chopra Jonas wore a Bulgari necklace set with the Laguna Blu diamond – an 11-carat fancy vivid stone – which will be auctioned by Sotheby's in May 2023. It is currently valued at more than $25 million. American model Grace Elizabeth made pink her theme for the occasion, pairing her gown with Ana Khouri's Philippa collection, including a ring, ear cuff and earpiece with a large ruby drop.

Yellow gold also snuck in as a subtle colour, typically paired with off-white, champagne and cream hues. Elle Fanning wore a Cartier Grain de Café necklace from 1955, which once belonged to Grace Kelly. One of our favourite looks from the night was worn by Anne Hathaway, who opted for a Bulgari High Jewellery Monete necklace and bracelet that worked sensationally well with her custom Atelier Versace safety pin gown.

MET Gala attendee Elle Fanning in Cartier High Jewellery, alongside Anne Hathaway in Bulgari High Jewellery

The Innovators

What would the Met Gala be without the people who don't follow the crowd?! We always expect to see some avant-garde looks on the night; this year, many of those looks centred on incredible high jewellery. Let's start with Michaela Coel, who co-chaired the event for 2023, wearing pieces by British-Ghanian jeweller Emefa Cole crafted in SMO (single mine origin) Gold. The designs are large, sculptural and vibrantly yellow, which is in stark contrast to the platinum and white gold that dominated the cream carpet. Elsewhere, Doja Cat transformed herself into Karl Lagerfeld's beloved cat Choupette using extensive prosthetic makeup. Once you get past the shock, you'll notice a 17-carat pear-shaped diamond jewel by Messika placed on her forehead. The singer also wore a custom-made armpiece by the brand, set with two pear-shaped diamonds of 2.5 and 4.5 carats, plus bracelets and rings.

MET Gala attendee Michaela Coel in Emefa Cole gold earrings, alongside Doja Cat in Messika High Jewellery

Some special mentions go to Rita Ora, who turned her wrists into canvases for Buccellati cuffs in 18k yellow and white gold, and Christine Ricci, who wore a one-of-a-kind suite of jewels by Gismondi 1754. We also loved the yellow gold pieces worn by actress Julia Garner, including an extravagant cuff with malachite beads, which she matched with a Gucci gown and black cape.

Men's Style

Last but certainly not least, there are the men. Rather than lapel pins, which were huge at the SAG Awards and the Academy Awards in 2023, it was all about the brooch bow tie and the tie-pin at the Met Gala 2023. Robert Pattinson accessorised his Dior suit with a star-shaped yellow gold brooch instead of a tie, while actor Jeremy Strong wore a necklace by Homer in a neon green shade tucked under his collar. Broadway star Jonathan Groff wore a vibrant gold camelia brooch atop his black bow tie, Simu Liu added some diamonds with a tie-pin brooch by Jacob & Co., and Ke Huy Quan wore Fred Leighton and Kwiat jewels to transform his tie Karl Lagerfeld-style.

There were some men on the red carpet who pushed the boundaries a little further. Taika Waititi wowed in a Cartier sautoir, Brooklyn Beckham covered his neck in Mikimoto pearls, and Brian Tyree Henry wore multiple strands of peacock, black and white pearls, some baroque shaped, atop his elaborate ruffled suit.

We don't wish to tempt fate, but could this be one of the best Met Galas ever? The jewels may not have been extravagantly colourful, but the power of pearls in this instance to evoke the spirit of Chanel and the personality of Karl Lagerfeld is palpable. Of course, we'd be hard pushed to choose a favourite, so we will leave that very difficult task to you.

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