They are hacked out of the earth, cut, polished and bought and sold along the way -- to finally be shown in all their glory. Gems, these tiny bits of mineral formations from the mines of South Africa, Burma, Brazil, Colombia, Russia or Canada eventually make their way to the red carpet in Hollywood, gem exhibits and at premier shops around the world. They are admired, and ultimately bought and shown off. VOA's Sonja Pace has this report on the glamor of the gem trade, with additional reporting by Mandy Clark and Carolyn Weaver. (Part 5 of 5)
A gala event brings out the stars, and none more than the Oscars. And when Hollywood's stars come out, so do the jewels.
The goal is to be seen looking gorgeous and glamorous.
But the jewels the stars are wearing are most likely not their own. They're simply on loan. And Greg Kwiat's jewelry firm is among those doing the lending. They know the red carpet is great for public relations.
"You want to think about Hollywood because it's a great stage to showcase the beauty of your designs and the beauty of your work," says Kwiat. "And Hollywood has long been a successful way for us to get some of the beautiful pieces we design in front of a worldwide audience."
Kwiat is a family company based in New York. It's been around for a century. Today, it sells $100 million in diamond jewelry every year.
Part of the reason is the red carpet. It's something Kwiat has been doing for a long time. "It goes back to Ann Margret and Elizabeth Taylor. My grandfather used to work with them for their important appearances," says Kwiat. "Most recently, we've got great relationships with Natalie Portman and Hillary Swank and Sienna Miller."
Only the best gem stones make it to the high-end shops and onto the red carpet. Trends may vary from one country to another, whether in Moscow, London, New York or Hollywood. But, the draw is still the glitter and dazzle.
While the most glamorous jewels may be only for the super-rich, gems have a broad appeal.
The diamond conglomerate De Beers has been widely credited with having coined the phrase, "a diamond is forever." But De Beers spokesman Tom Tweedy says diamonds have a much longer history as sought after gems.
"It has a substance in mythology and ancient history, where diamonds when they were first traded and mined were used as symbols of power in ancient India, and then came through what were originally the spice routes into Europe, and eventually entered into a betrothal ring in 1455, they then had a symbolism that was very strong," says Tweedy.
The De Beers slogan caught on and sparked a mass market demand for lower priced diamond jewelry.
Della Tinsley of East London Design says gems should be for everyone. She says people have always used jewelry of some sort to project personality.
"We communicate through what we wear, and we always have, whether it's a feather in our hair when we were dragging antelope around, or bones through our noses and things like that," says Tinsely. "We're all saying things about ourselves when we wear jewelry."
Jewels are certainly not a necessity, but for people around the globe they hold a strong attraction. Will they ever go out of style? Della Tinsley says never.
"I hope not. I hope all people will always want shiny things," says Tinsley. "That's what makes me smile. I love shiny, pretty things."