The Jewelry of The Gilded Age

The Gilded Age on HBO launched in late January, and I am not sure what the hesitation was for me watching it, but I have, and there is a bit to say about the sparkle on display!

Three women and one man in Gilded Age costumes
Two women in Gilded Age era costumes

The story unfolds like the original Gossip Girl, but in a Gilded Age era period piece setting. This show was created by the same producers as Downton Abbey, and also has some Upstairs, Downstairs elements. It is gorgeous to look at, and the scandalous twists and turns are delicious. A few moments are darker than I had expected going in, but it was a tremendous first season overall. A friend messaged me and said I needed to watch it because they wanted to hear what I thought about the jewelry. Curiosity got me, and I am glad it did!


pearl earrings

My first take is that some jewelry is out of its time. Some of the looks are off by decades. Other pieces are inspired by the American Gilded Age but not made then. However, there are recreations in high-end costume quality in large numbers, with fine jewelry that is inspired by the time thoughtfully placed. Interestingly, the men’s jewelry seems where most actual antiques appeared.

Five women and one man in Gilded Age costumes
Quadrille dancers in the Gilded Age

All images of the production are from HBO.

Though it may surprise some serious jewelry lovers, the overall effect is that it simply works. The careful costume choices regarding the use of color and placement help to carry the story visually. The deliberate distinctions between the old moneyed and the nouveau riche in The American Gilded Age era New York are on point.


graduated diamond necklace
Ruby and Diamond Drop Earrings in 18k White Gold.

With the need for decadence, while preferring the more modern styling of the time, the new rich have a look that helps to push the story but doesn’t stand out garishly. The reigning families amongst old money have more ornamented fabric that will catch the eye but not suck up all the room’s attention. They live by stricter rules in the old money class, evident in their styling.

Sharp-eyed PriceScopers might find some of the anachronistic jewelry distracting because once you notice it, you watch for more. However, the men’s pieces, like watch fobs and cufflinks, seem more appropriate to the period. The women’s pieces are far more likely to be out-of-time or costume pieces.

Two women in Gilded Age era costumes
Two women in Gilded Age era costumes


Diamond Chandelier Drop Earrings in 14k White Gold.
Oval Aquamarine Pendant with Baguette Halo in 14k Rose Gold.

My suggestion, go in informed and enjoy the sparkle as it is. Don’t let the artistic license of the jewelry timeline rob you of enjoyment. That is my view, though, and mine is certainly not the only valid opinion on the matter! What do you think? Did they take it too far? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments

Written by Kayti Kawachi

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