The Best Gilded Age Jewelry at the Met Gala 2022: Tiaras, Chokers, and Nail Guards Fit For A Chinese Empress

3 Minute Read

HomeLearning CenterGemologyGem and Jewelry NewsThe Best Gilded Age Jewelry at the Met Gala 2022: Tiaras, Chokers, and Nail Guards Fit For A Chinese Empress

Top Chef alum Melissa King wears Chinese nail guards traditionally worn by empresses like Empress Dowager Cixi who met with Western women during the Gilded Age.
Photo attribution: Getty Images

It's been a week since the Met Gala red carpet, but people just can't seem to stop talking about what everyone was wearing. 

With this year's theme of "Gilded Glamour," there have been plenty of elegant, over the top looks for the public to drool over (mostly via sweatpants, from the couch). But, while many opinions over this year's attire were polarizing, there seemed to be a lot more consensus that the gilded, glamorous jewelry pulled for the event was spectacular. 

Between the trove of tiaras and crowns, the diadems and earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and watches, the 2022 Met Gala displayed an opulent and sophisticated display of some of the world's finest jewelry. 

With the gilded age starting in 1870 and ending in 1900, actress Emma Chamberlain's vintage 1911 Cartier tiara made of platinum and diamonds wasn't all that historically incorrect. Paired with a yellow gold geometric choker outfitted in white diamonds, the look was decidedly dashing and a fashion favorite of the evening.

"During the Gilded Age, it was all about being extravagant and I've never seen a more extravagant necklace," Chamberlain told Vogue as she planned her jewelry ensemble for the famous event. "I would like to feel like a princess — this will do just that." 

However, the choker is allegedly the Maharaja of Patiala Bhupinder Singh's diamond choker, which has upset some netizens who claim the piece was stolen from India. There has been no official confirmation yet as to whether the necklace is the Patiala Necklace.

Thanks #cartier. Those are the jewels of the Maharaja of Patiala. That's a piece of India's stolen history, not a fancy piece of jewellery to lend out to celebrities. Disrespectful on so many levels.

— Shriya Zamindar (@shriyazamindar) May 7, 2022

Top Chef alum Melissa King's jewelry was definitely one of the most uniquely glamorous looks to hit the red carpet. Called everything from a claw to a gilded manicure, her tailored suit paired with an intricate array of bracelets and rings created an astonishing look.

King's jewelry started with a gold bracelet covered with rubies and pearls, that extended up and covered her ring and pinky fingers. She also wore a gold, armor-like covering on her other pointer finger designed by Lillian Shalom. On her other fingers she was wearing rings by Dena Kemp.

"I was determined to represent my culture through Chinese nail guards traditionally worn by empresses in dynasty times. These nail guards were inspired by the last empress of China, Empress Dowager Cixi, who historically was written to be power hungry or a "dragon lady", but I feel might have been more of a feminist in patriarchal governed China (she met with Western women during the Guilded Ages and banned foot binding!)," King explained in an Instagram post, providing beautiful backstory to the pieces she and her stylist, Adam H. Ballheim, chose for the iconic event. 

"As a chef, I work with my hands daily so highlighting them in this way felt like a fun play on things. The nail guards came fully to life through the incredibly talented Chris Habana (@chrishabana) and his team who designed the guards into a gilded glove that felt like I dipped my hand in gold!"

But, it was perhaps actress Blake Lively who was the belle of the ball with her transformative Statue of Liberty dress and matching jewelry. One of the few real hits of the evening, she paired her spectacular dress with a copper tiara — a more glamorous one than Lady Liberty's, but nonetheless inspired by her likeness. 

"The piece was bronze and turquoise-colored, with 7 spikes resembling the ones from the Lady Liberty's, which pay homage to the 7 seas and the 7 continents," professional stylist and co-founder of MyBeautik, Laura Roncagli, explained. "Blake said in an interview that she also asked the designer to use 25 stones in the crown, as the Statue of Liberty's crown has 25 windows."

Lively also wore unmissable dangle earrings that were made up of 90 carats of Colombian emeralds and uniquely colored champagne diamonds. But Lively's best accessory of the evening? Her adoring husband, Ryan Reynolds. 

Cate Misczuk

Cate Misczuk is a jewelry and watch writer who covers everything from the latest jewelry trends and the heritage of watchmaking to 24k gold, gems, sustainability, unisex timepieces and more. Get in touch at

Never Stop Learning

When you join the IGS community, you get trusted diamond & gemstone information when you need it.

Become a Member

Get Gemology Insights

Get started with the International Gem Society’s free guide to gemstone identification. Join our weekly newsletter & get a free copy of the Gem ID Checklist!