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Red Carpet Review: Chic or Safe?
Jewelers give thumbs up and down to the jewelry of the 2006 Academy Awards

As she meandered down Oscar's red carpet, best actress nominee and "Desperate Housewife" Felicity Huffman, clad in her Zac Posen gown and wearing borrowed jewelry, told reporters, "I feel like a movie star."

There was a time when actresses who attended the Oscars actually were movie stars, not just actress-shaped billboards. Celebrities today rely on stylists to find dresses and jewelry to borrow.

"It is accepted that even though actresses, such as best actress award winner Reese Witherspoon or Naomi Watts, who are paid well over $10 million a movie, there is no reason to pry open their wallets to pay for clothes, never mind picking them out," writes New York Times fashion critic Guy Trebay. The result, say many fashion critics, is that the stars play it too safe.

To critique what came down the red carpet from the standpoint of fashion and jewelry, Modern Jeweler asked some leading retailers their opinions. As has been the case in the last few years, the consensus is that there's a dearth of fine jewelry and trend direction. Their top pick for the Oscar look that will be coming to your showcases soon? The pear shaped gemstone drop earring.

Modern Jeweler wishes to thank the following retailers for serving as our 2006 red carpet review panel: Candy Udell, London Jewelers, Long Island, New York; Harvey and Maddy Rovinsky, Bernie Robbins, Somers Point, New Jersey; Catherine Coquillard, vice president of jewelry merchandising, QVC, West Chester, Pennsylvania; Deborah Wishon, Deva Fine Jewels, Winston-Salem, North Carolina; and Mindy Stewart, Powder & Smoke, Little Rock, Arkansas.

Who had the best overall look?

Catherine Coquillard: Jessica Alba looked stunning in her gold embroidered Versace dress and matching Erica Courtney drop earrings. I loved how she nestled a gold and diamond hairpin in her Grace Kelly-inspired up-do. She carried off an elegant, yet modern approach to glamour that balanced all the right elements.

Harvey Rovinsky: Keira Knightley, Jessica Alba, and Felicity Huffman.

Maddy Rovinsky: My favorite was Salma Hayek, but I also liked Rachel Weisz.

Mindy Stewart: Charlize Theron. She embodied the old '40s Hollywood glamour with her gown and earrings. Second place would be Keira Knightley with her fabulous Bulgari necklace and beautiful Vera Wang dress.

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Charlize Theron
Charlize Theron showed why chandeliers continue to be popular with 8 carat fancy yellow diamond chandelier earrings by Chopard.
© Getty, courtesy of Diamond Information Center

Reese Witherspoon
Oscar winner Reese Witherspoon won raves for her coral earrings, diamond right-hand ring, and 19th century diamond bird hair pin by Fred Leighton.
© Steve Granitz/

Jessica Alba
Jessica Alba was drop dead gorgeous in yellow beryl and platinum drop earrings by Erica Courtney.
© Platinum Guild International

Jennifer Aniston
Is Jennifer Aniston's vintage twenties double strand diamond necklace by Bulgari too long or just right?
© Wireimage, courtesy of Diamond Information Center

Keira Knightley
Keira Knightley in the strongest jewelry statement of the night: a striking vintage necklace by Bulgari.
Salma Hayek
Salma Hayek sparkled in 15.66 carat asscher diamond earrings and 15.23 carat fancy intense orangey-pink diamond ring, both by Leviev.
© Getty, courtesy of Diamond Information Center

Michelle Williams
Michelle Williams received mixed reviews for her 19th century French diamond necklace by Fred Leighton.
© Diamond Information Center

Terrence Howard
Terrence Howard set the trend for men in a 30 carat Sol Rafael diamond and platinum brooch valued at $500,000, diamond and platinum cuff links by Kwiat, and platinum and diamond watch and bracelet by Chris Aire.
© Diamond Information Center

Jennifer Lopez
Jennifer Lopez was directional in vintage fifties and sixties yellow gold and diamond pieces from Fred Leighton.
© Wireimage, courtesy of Diamond Information Center