Celebrating SATC’s 20th Anniversary and ‘Big’ Jewelry Trends
Twenty years ago, four independent 30-something gal pals landed on our TV screen with big dreams, cool careers and lots of sex and romance. The show was HBO’s Sex And The City and during its run from 1998-2004, it changed the course of TV as well as trends in cocktails, restaurants and fashion. In fact, style and shopping became as much as part of the story line as the character’s friendships and relationship issues. Sarah Jessica Parker’s Carrie Bradshaw not only became a style icon but Patricia Field’s visionary costume design for the show led to episodes which included Carrie’s fashion escapades, from being the ‘real’ model, wearing Dolce and Gabbana in a charity fashion show to the common New York dilemmas of spending the rent money on expensive clothes and accessories and adding up her shoes purchases to find she could have put a down payment on an apartment. The was also the engagement ring episode entitled “Just Say Yes” which revolved around when Aidan (John Corbett) proposes to Carrie (described below).
Speaking of jewelry—there were plenty of pieces that Carrie wore over the course of 6 years on the series and in two follow up films that became iconic—they put small designers on the map, brought renowned brand’s names onto the small screen, and were widely copied and imitated and worn by women everywhere.
Here bejeweledmag.com commemorates SATC’s 20 year anniversary by taking a look back at the pieces that have held up over time and how they are still being translated today.
1-From the very first episode, Carrie’s nameplate necklace brought yellow gold back to the forefront and a style most of us who were also thirty-something or older when the series began hadn’t seen since our Sweet Sixteen. The nameplate became Carrie’s most personal and sentimental piece of jewelry and it linked Carrie’s romances and life changes together over the six seasons. Out of all of the pieces in the series, the nameplate was most popular and translated by designers, manufacturers, retailers and the strip of jewelry shops in New York’s Chinatown. They were created all different all different fonts and weights, with and without stones and continued to be strong on and off for the past twenty years. Nameplate necklaces are still being designed and sold today in store such as Neiman Marcus by designer Jennifer Zeuner in script vermeil and Sarah Chloe in diamond set yellow or white gold versions. They have also morphed into full names and monograms on discs as well as the Victorian love token coins in high karat gold with monograms on one side.
2-During the first two season’s Carrie’s slip dresses and Manolo Blahnik feminine, fashionable and ultra high heeled shoes were irreverently offset by her rapper-esque gold jewelry. She wore huge, hollow hoops that complemented her nameplate in the first season. These oversized hoops came back for a while and then were interpreted in toned down versions and eventually evolved into different shapes of oval, rectangular and teardrop shapes in a variety of sizes. Hoops went out of style for a couple of seasons as they have done throughout time, but they are back again, in all different silhouettes and details. Some are even oversized like those Carrie first wore.
3- The Horseshoe Pendant was worn in multiples in small, medium and large versions. The horseshoe motif followed the nameplate necklace as one of the most coveted pieces of jewelry that Carrie Bradshaw brought into the spotlight. The original designers of Carrie’s horseshoe necklaces, Mia Konvier and Lizzie Scheck of Mia & Lizzie said in an interview with me for Lustre Magazine, “ Patricia Field was very up front with us, She said just be ready, you are going to be knocked off. Soon you will even see it for $5 on the street. But the horseshoe dates back to Victorian times and had been going in an out of popularity throughout the 20th Century. A symbol of luck, the horseshoe facing up brings luck to the wearer and facing down brings luck to everyone else who the wearer comes in contact with. It is still a popular trend today, from antique versions converted from stickpins in different gemstones to modern varieties by independent designers.
4- The Oversized Butterfly Necklace was also a hit. In an interview with Patricia Field for Lustre, she explained “much of the jewelry I choose for Sarah Jessica Parker are pendants because they work well for close-ups.” In Season 3, we see Carrie mixing up more costume and real pieces. The oversized filigree butterfly was designed by the late Kenneth Jay Lane and it’s still available today. Field worked with quite a number of Kenneth Jay Lane pieces and mixed them up in a modern day take on how Coco Chanel’s combination of faux and fine. In a recent story on bejeweledmag.com, I wrote about how butterflies are fluttering around this season and is one of the trends that transformed from ready-to-wear to gemstone set jewelry.
5-Patricia Field also explained during the same interview mentioned above, “During the 4th season, the jewelry took on finer feel as diamonds took their place among Carrie’s best friends.” She continued “We had Sol Rafael, a New York-based designer create pieces for Carrie. I had found a great vintage necklace that I brought to Sol which I thought would be perfect for the season and he transformed into a delicate necklace with drops of diamonds and emerald tips.” This set off a new desire for lariats, bolo and modern-day negligee necklaces with linear drops. These type of necklaces are still strong and are available in small designer and big brand collections. Check out Nikos Koulis and Eva Fehren for these styles.
6- During the season finale of SATC, Season 4, Aidan asks Carrie (to get engaged and it took him a couple of tries to find the perfect ring. Prior to him popping the question, Carrie discovers the ring she she saw to her friends: “it wasn’t good. Pear-shaped diamond with a gold band…It just wasn’t me.”
The ring both Carrie and Sara Jessica Parker finally said yes to was provided by Harry Winston, a colorless, 3.27 carat, square emerald cut diamond in a simple platinum band, Sabrina Wright, property master for the show designed and put together the “bad ring” herself, using a CZ and gold band. To find the “good ring” she worked with Harry Winston. “We sent up a few rings, a vintage style and a very modern 5-carat diamond, but Sara Jessica Parker chose the one that made it onto the show. I interviewed the marketing director at the time for an article I was writing on the ring and if she thought this would spur a new trend in engagement rings, she noted, “I received 40-50 calls in direct response to the episode.” While most viewers of the show didn’t run over to Winston for their engagement ring there were a lot more emerald and Asscher cuts sold that year and they continued to grow in sales throughout the past twenty years even though Carrie broke off her engagement with Aidan after wearing the ring on a chain around her neck. Lang Antiques has a beauty of an emerald cut vintage ring which is over four carats and is simple and timelessly modern.
Skip ahead to 2008 and the 2nd film, Sex And The City 2. There is another engagement ring.. After ten years of their on-and-off relationship and then finally getting married in the first film, Big gives Carrie a 5-carat black diamond set in 18K white gold with pavé diamonds, which was created by jewelry designer Itay Malkin, who worked in collaboration with Sarah Jessica Parker and Patricia Field on the final design. In the script, Carrie asks why a black diamond, to which Big replies, “Because you’re not like anyone else.”
Black diamond rings quickly became must-haves in various sizes and settings. Malkin also produced identical versions of the ring in a limited-edition series retailing at $10,000 each. Other small, independent designers, manufacturers and large houses also set their black diamond options into rings after the film came out. Since then, the gem has become more acceptable in engagement rings and everyday jewelry, just look at these styles from Karen Karch and Rebecca Overmann
There are many more styles that I could have shown in this story- Carrie’s pinky rings, oversized flowers, multiple strands of pearls, a cameo brooch, a diamond bead necklace, just to name a few. But we had to stop somewhere. —SATC was a groundbreaking show in all aspects and the jewelry worn by Sarah Jessica Parker’s Carrie from the first season continues to impact pieces 20 years later.