It seems almost quaint compared to today's practices, where actresses have designers offering gowns, jewelers lending baubles and stylists pulling looks together.
Once, however, it was simpler. Major stars, those who hoisted statuettes by night's end, arrived at galas in homemade dresses and wore their own jewelry. Joanne Woodward was stunning in a gown she sewed for the Oscars. To this day, anyone would clamor for Elizabeth Taylor's diamonds.
As styles became grander, so have the jewels, and viewers tune into shows such as the 19th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, airing Sunday, Jan. 27, on TBS and TNT, to see the displays.
Henri Barguirdjian, president and CEO of Graff USA, a luxury jewelry company, explains why some jewelers lend pieces.
"So many people are watching the shows, whether the SAG [Awards] or the Oscars," he tells Zap2it. "And they are jammed with celebrities. The fashion houses and the jewelry houses love to use these affairs as advertising. It is a great way of showing your product in a very glamorous environment with glamorous people."
Though his company is a sponsor of the SAG Awards, he does not participate that way.
"The reason we do not do it is because we sell only really one-of-a-kind exceptional pieces, and the people who acquire them are very special to us," he says. "And offering such rare works of art to be worn just to be borrowed really devalues the value of our pieces and devalues the brand."
Some jewelers, however, do lend their pieces.
In 2012, Natalie Portman kept her look simple yet glamorous with Tiffany & Co. platinum and yellow diamond drop earrings.
Also last year, Nicole Kidman wore an intricate floral, bejeweled choker against a black gown. Given how eye-catching it was, Kidman wisely opted against earrings.
The same year, Winona Ryder took the opposite tact and went for dramatic drop earrings. She kept her makeup simple, her hair in a relaxed updo and no necklace, so the art deco-inspired pendant earrings stood out.
At the SAG Awards in 2009, Christina Applegate, resplendent in an emerald one-shouldered gown, went for a completely accessorized look. She seems to relish the red carpet glam and layered on the bling with diamond bangles on both wrists, an opera-length necklace of diamonds and intricate circular diamond earrings from Lorraine Schwartz.
This year, expect to see "bigger, bolder pieces," Barguirdjian says. "A lot of color is coming back. Colored stones are making a very big comeback. Very long, big earrings and wide cuff-style bracelets are among the favorites."
And incidentally, to answer a question that some of us wonder about when stars are draped in millions of dollars worth of jewels, Barguirdjian confirms that security is never far away.
"Insurance companies don't let that many millions of jewelry floating around without having the proper situation," he says. "It is extremely discreet. So you would not notice it."
Photo/Video credit: Getty Images