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Should the Jewelry from The Gilded Age Have Stayed True to Its Time Period?

The new series on HBOMax is filled with anachronistic jewelry.

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Carrie Coons’ character in Temple St. Clair
Carrie Coons’ character wears Temple St. Clair jewelry in The Gilded Age.

LET ME START out by saying I absolutely love Temple St. Clair’s jewelry. I think she has been a major talent and influence since she launched her collection and I have featured her in different magazines, profiled her and shown her jewelry and even own some of her iconic designs. One of my two favorite stones is moonstone, to which Temple devotes much of her collection, so I am a huge fan. But do her pieces work in a series that takes place in the 1880s, which is part of the Victorian era?

Do pieces that are made of glass and paste from the Art Deco period belong on the main character who is ‘new money’ and trying to break into society? To determine this, we need to go back to the show’s creation and its theme. The series is the Julian Fellowes created The Gilded Age — the same Julian Fellowes who created Downton Abbey and wrote the Robert Altman directed Gosford Park and the 2004 Screenplay for William Makepeace Thackery’s book Vanity Fair, all of which seem to stay true to the jewels of the time in which they were made, whether they were costume pieces or the authentic jewels ( a mix throughout Downton Abbey; jewelry provided by the antique house of Templier and Chanel High Jewellery’s Art Deco pieces for Gosford Park or a modern adaptation by Chanel for Vanity Fair). While they took some liberties as TV miniseries and films often do, none are so blatant as those in The Gilded Age—which was meant as a follow-up for the Downton Abbey fans.

Antique dealers and shops such as @DoyleandDoyle and @JeanJeanVintage on Instagram are questioning these choices and asking in their website blogs and and/or posts why original antique jewelry of the era could not be used in the series. And I might ask the same question. Every now and then we see a piece or more that is of the era, but it is usually one or two in the entire episode, and we are just finished with episode three.

@jeanjeanvintage questioning the use of Art Deco glass jewels on Instagram for Carrie Coons’ character in The Gilded Age

@jeanjeanvintage questioning the use of Art Deco glass jewels on Instagram for Carrie Coons’ character in The Gilded Age

But let’s take a look at the theme to see if any of it makes sense in the larger context. It’s approximately 1882 in New York and the conflict of new money vs. old money is the backdrop for this mini-series. There was a huge economic growth and an equally evolving war among the established rules of elite society and the beginning of the modern age. Bertha Russell (played by Carrie Coons) and her tycoon husband represent new money and Bertha also gets to wear much of the jewelry we are discussing in the film. Did the costume designer Kasia Walicka-Maimone decide to mix centuries and add in a modern designer to differentiate between the old and new guard?

I remember the first time I saw The Age of Innocence, which also plays on the theme of societal changes and old vs. new. The jewels stayed true to the period, which was 10 years earlier than the time in which this miniseries takes place, and how effectively they enhanced the development of the characters and plot line. I think the same could have been done with The Gilded Age. But we are only three episodes in. As Downtown Abbey evolved from mostly costume to more authentic pieces like tiaras and diadems from the prestigious Bently & Skinner, so too could The Gilded Age do something similar. I think we will just have to wait and see. In the meantime, why not weigh in on the jewels?

There are only two questions here:

Do you mind the jewels being anachronistic as long as they work in with the costumes

Or…

Are you a purist who would prefer to see jewels of the time period in which the film takes place?

@doyleanddoyle questioning the use of what they have dated as mid-20th century jewelry on Carrie Coons’ character in The Gilded Age

@doyleanddoyle questioning the use of what they have dated as mid-20th century jewelry on Carrie Coons’ character in The Gilded Age

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