The tv series “The Crown” that has recently reached its 5th season has been greatly acclaimed by many spectators, me included. The attention that is paid to the details is simply mind blowing. However, it shouldn’t be that much of a surprise, considering it is one of the most expensive series ever made, with a budget that oscillates between 10 and 15 million pounds per episode!
A great part of that amount, excluded the scenography and the settings, is involved in the creation of the replicas of the dresses and the jewels worn by the royal family. Initially Netflix, not knowing the success that the series would eventually have, put some restrictions on the time and the money meant for jewelry. Thus, in the first 2 seasons, with the actress Claire Foy playing Elizabeth, what we are seeing are mainly substitutes of real jewels. Juliette Designs, a London based company, was hired to recreate, down to the finest detail, the British crown jewels out of base medals, Swarovski crystals, and cubic zirconia, the most widely used diamond substitute.
Probably the most challenging part was making THE crown. The reproduction of St. Edward’s Crown has taken many years to perfect. In order to get each gemstone, set in the right way (faux aquamarine, topaz, tourmaline, ruby, amethyst, sapphire), the team had to look into a very rare book on The Crown Jewels, published by the stationary office. The book closely details the construction and materials of each piece as if they were technical schematics. (Can you believe the most difficult piece to find was the fur at the base of the Crown?)
Since the real crown is worth nearly 6 billion, we sure hope this replica was far less expensive…
Moving to season 5, the series had quite a turn, not creating substitutes anymore but instead finding proper matches through vintage jewels. One of the stars of the recent season is Debicki, the actress interpreting princess Diana. A key part of the transformation in her character was her look, for which the production team turned to Susan Caplan, the London-based, globally renowned curator in luxury vintage jewelry.
The most difficult piece to source? Undoubtedly the iconic multi-stranded chocker necklace worn by Diana. The team had to be meticulous: they sourced the silver toned centerpiece, changed the discolored stone to sparkling ones, and replaced the centre elaborate oval gem with the desired color. This required crystals dating back to the 30s.
Still surprised this series is so critically acclaimed and beloved. Certainly, I am not. Once a series is capable of evolving from a strictly commercial product to an artistic one, it doesn’t take long to see the results and the appreciation of fans from all over the world. The similarities in the series are absurd and once again, Jewels are not something to be left aside, but instead become a substantial part of the collective imaginary of the series.