26 April 2017
by Tamara Dumas | Photography by Joe Alvarez
If you are as much cinephile as we are at Ikon London Magazine, then you probably don’t just watch films, you consume them. Picking every detail or decor, every continuity issue, every wrong engine or gun shot sound, that’s how we do it. We dissect films with genuine curiosity, cover film festivals, photo calls and press screenings and we love hearing stories told by the Film Industry professionals.
Today we shine the light to the craft of jewellery making in the film industry. And the best person to talk about it is, of course, the ‘Don' jeweller himself, Stephen Einhorn. The English jewellery maker who is know to produce jewellery for Hollywood films like The Allied, Alice Through The Looking Glass, Cinderella, Snow White and The Huntsmen to name just a few. We spoke to the Hollywood jeweller Stephen Einhorn at his London flagship store that also conveniently hosts his workshop.
Describe step-by-step process of making bespoke jewellery for Production Companies from the moment you receive first call/email to the moment the jewellery is delivered to the set?
I usually get contacted by the costume designer or the property master who will give me some kind of picture reference, idea of style or simply a box of dried insects! I have pretty good relationships with the people I work with now so we can communicate via email or phone initially. Then I usually have face to face meetings on set at Pinewood etc., to get a general feel of the style and make sure we are in sync. I then come up with some artwork and discuss any changes that the costume designer, props master, director or art director want to make. We usually make some kind of working model before we commit to precious metal. Once everything is signed off we go ahead and make the piece, usually to a very tight deadline.
How detailed are the costume designers’ requests and is there a room for design development?
The costume designers requests are as detailed as any work that we undertake. Every little thing is incredibly important. I am always given a very good brief and reference pics or actual items for inspiration or specific design reference, then I get to put that all together, play around a bit to come up with what they want. It’s a very satisfying relationship working with very talented people. A really good example of where I was allowed licence within the brief was the beetle collar for Charlize Theron. Colleen Atwood came to my place with a box of beetles-saying that she wanted a collar made from bugs….and rather than absolutely detailing what she wanted, allowed and trusted me to come up with something suitable to show her, discuss and complete.
Do you ever make your suggestions on what material is better to use?
Yes usually, I mean this is my speciality. The costume designer knows how they want something to look and I know how I can achieve that look.
Which materials are often used for films - Precious metals & stones or cheaper alternatives?
We usually use precious metals and stones. No corners are cut here. Sometimes we improvise, using my model-making expertise, especially if something has to mimic a technique that has been used in the past but now there are no longer craftsmen who know how to undertake that work or the time constraints don’t allow for that. For instance, certain stone cutting techniques that if you could actually find someone, would maybe have it ready by next year!
What do you enjoy most about working with Film Production Companies?
Well I really like the people I have been privileged enough to work with. Their talent is awe-inspiring and most of all I love the sheer variety of work that I get asked to do. It takes me right out of my comfort zone which is a real pleasure.
What is your personal favourite ‘film jewellery’ and why?
I think my favourite piece would have to be the collar made from stag beetles, that I sculpted, carved and cast in brass, for four times Oscar winning costume designer Colleen Atwood, worn by Charlize Theron in Snow White and the Huntsmen. It was the kind of work I love, to sculpt the beetles, create the shape and make it wearable. I made four different sizes of beetles so that they meshed nicely together to create the overall shape, I really loved that job!
What are the challenges you are facing when working with Film Production Companies?
Well, usually its simply a question of time. Everything is always at the last minute or if it isn’t, there are last minute changes. These changes can be big because the director or designer are looking for something very specific. We are very good at reacting and delivering what they need on time.
What do you do with the jewellery once the film is shot?
They usually have multiples made for all the various actors, stuntmen and doubles that are to wear it and all the jewellery belongs to the studio. We make an extra one for our records and for display.
Which films / actors have you been working with?
- Recently I sculpted and made the crucifix necklace which Brad Pitt wears in the film Allied with Marion Cotillard.
- The pocket watch and chain for Eva Green in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Tim Burton, and in the same film, the locket for Lauren McCrostie playing Olive Abroholos Elephantas, designs and models for the boot detailing worn by Ella Purnell playing Emma Bloom.
- The Bespoke pearl and ruby ring for Cate Blanchett in the Cinderella film directed by Kenneth Branagh.
- We made the mayoral chain for Sacha Baron Cohen’s character in Alice through the Looking Glass.
- I made the Snow White and The Huntsmen beetle collar for Charlize Theron.
- The ring for Johnny Depp's Barnabas Collins character in Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows and also in that film, a key necklace and articulated fish keyring for Ava Green who played Angelique Bouchard.
- For Maleficant, the ornate jade necklace worn by Angelina Jolie and three other items in that film.
- A Wiccan three headed goddess pendant that Jessica Chastain and Chris Hemsworth wore for their characters in The Huntsman: Winter War.
- We also did some things for Into The Woods and fang necklaces for TV series True Blood.
Any films in the pipeline you can name?
We are currently making three pieces for two new feature films which will be amazing but we aren’t allowed to say which ones!
Who was wearing your jewellery on the Red Carpet?
Most recently Ella Eyre at the most recent launch of Diors new makeup range with Bella Hadid.
Who are your brand ambassadors?
Kristian Nairn (Game of Thrones) is a big fan, and currently on tour in the USA… And pretty much all our customers who come from all walks of life. we like to be descreet. Jane Best the other founding director here is our top ambassador, as is Karim Rushdy Areida!
Would it be possible to purchase the same jewellery as you produced for the film?
Unfortunately not. The designs are subject to copyright by the production company. If the client wants to buy similar jewellery, it would be an elaboration inspired by the original deign, but never the same jewellery.
So if you love films as much as we do, we bet next time you will be clocking these precious jewellery pieces, specially crafted for the film. The display exemplars of all mentioned jewellery are neatly displayed in Stephen Einhorn store in Islington, London so make sure to check them out.
Johny Depp's Ring