Whether you simply like gawking at pretty jewels (don’t we all) or are drawn by the finer details of jewelry craftsmanship and industry, here are 10 excellent dramas and documentaries to feast your eyes on. We’ve steered clear of any jewel-heist themed movies here, instead opting for the topical or historical.
2013, Documentary; French Connection Films
Who makes the celebrities on the red carpet shimmer? It’s not Hollywood magic that creates a star, but the masterful jewelers who work behind the scenes. “Master of Dreams” follows the work and inspiration of 13 master jewelers whose work you’ve probably seen on an A-list actress.
2014, TV Drama; Netflix
Set in the lavish courts of Mongol-ruled China during the Yuan Dynasty (1271 – 1368), “Marco Polo” visits some dramatically bejeweled queens and princesses. The series was renewed this year so stay tuned when you’re all caught up.
2010, TV Documentary; The Smithsonian Channel
If you like your jewels with a touch of intrigue and mysticism, the story of the Hope Diamond has it all. At 45.52-carats, it was allegedly stolen from an Indian temple, cursed, and worn by Marie Antoinette.
1994, Drama; Miramax
“La Reine Margot,” was adapted from the novel by Alexandre Dumas, père, The year is 1572, Margot de Valois is caught in a marriage she doesn’t want and a religious battle that swallows France. The film was nominated at the 1995 Oscars for best costume design—no doubt because it contains sumptuous necklaces and royal crowns in nearly every scene.
2000, TV Drama/ History; A&E Television Networks
For connoisseur of time pieces, “Longitude” takes the precision of the watchmaker’s workshop and places it on the high seas. In the 18th Century, European seafarers puzzled over how to track one’s longitude while sailing. Master craftsman John Harrison rose to the challenge with a breakthrough chronometer—something that influenced what you may be wearing on your wrist today.
2008, Drama; Magnolia Pictures
In 208–209 AD, the Battle of Red Cliff was one of the most desperate in Chinese history, fueling generations of tellings, retellings, novels, and motion pictures. While the costuming in this film is not as flashy and fantastical as other Chinese movies better known in the West, "Red Cliffs" remains true to the spirit and style of historical Chinese dress—both of the peasant and ruling class.
2006, TV Documentary; History Channel
Not to be confused with Leonardo DiCaprio action flick "Blood Diamond" that released the same year, “Blood Diamonds” chronicles the war, pain, and enslavement behind the diamond’s glittering facade. While hard to watch at times, this is a valuable issue for any jewelry fan to consider.
2008, Drama; Paramount
This one won the 2009 Oscars for its understated and elegant costuming. “The Duchess” follows the rise and fall of the impetuous Duchess of Devonshire, played by Keira Knightley. For more Keira dressed in exquisite costumes and jewels (and throwing beauteous fits), also see the 2012 drama “Anna Karenina.”
2007, TV Drama; Showtime
You already know that there will be intrigue at every turn of Anne Boleyn’s head, but nothing will prepare you for the sheer amount of accessorizing in this drama—by both women and men. Just imagine… four seasons worth…
2010, TV Documentary; The History Channel
The series “How the Earth Was Made” takes us right to the source and lets the earth tell its own story. In the episode “America’s Gold,” see how this prized metal from outer space has transformed human events on our little planet. See the full episode here.
Want more? Check out 10 Books for Jewelry Lovers
Produced and edited by Christine Lin.
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