Jessica de Lotz “was glued to the TV” when House of the Dragon first aired. The London-based jeweller produced six designs for the first series of HBO’s Game of Thrones prequel, including the gold-plated brass ring with Targaryen crest that actor Paddy Considine, as King Viserys I Targaryen, wears on his right index finger.

De Lotz says her rings give characters “a sense of identity”, with King Viserys’ piece different to the two oxidised silver examples worn by Matt Smith’s Prince Daemon Targaryen. They illustrate status, hierarchy and control, she notes, with the camera panning in on hands at “pivotal moments”. A second series airs this summer.

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And onscreen jewellery is also in the limelight right now, thanks to the current exhibition at Bonhams in London of sets, props and costumes from Netflix series The Crown. Two auctions will follow next month. Offered pieces include the reproduction engagement ring with simulated sapphire and cubic zirconia (estimate £2,000-3,000), worn by Emma Corrin as Lady/Princess Diana, inspired by the late royal’s Garrard sapphire and diamond ring.

The jewellery being sold was bought for the show rather than specially made, according to Bonhams. However, jewellers have long created bespoke pieces for film and television, and, following a quieter period due to last year’s Hollywood writers’ and actors’ strikes, they expect work to pick up from this month.

Reproduction Princess Diana engagement ring, on display as part of Bonhams auction exhibition of props from the Netflix series, The Crown

Vicki Sarge, founder of the eponymous luxury costume jewellery brand that has supplied pieces for films including The Favourite (2018), has “high hopes” for this year. About a quarter of her company’s income came from stage and screen work in 2022; last year “not so much”. “It’s a fun part of our business,” she says.

Such work is typically uncredited and jewellers — sometimes working to costume designers’ exact specifications, other times enjoying more freedom — are usually sworn to secrecy about their involvement until productions are released. Other challenges include strict contracts and tight timeframes: London fine jeweller Stephen Einhorn turned round a piece in about a week last month.

“Usually, I get approached for pieces that feature heavily in films because they want them to look less prop-y and more like pieces of fine jewellery,” says Einhorn, co-founder of the eponymous brand, whose first film commission was a bespoke nine-carat rose gold and onyx ring for Johnny Depp as Barnabas Collins in Dark Shadows (2012).

Olivia Colman in the film ‘The Favourite’
Vicki Sarge supplied pieces for films including ‘The Favourite’ © Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

A former model maker for film and advertising who became a jeweller in 1995, Einhorn enjoys the “problem solving” involved — such as creating a necklace with magnetic catch that can be torn off easily in an action scene. He says that the level of detail on films is “mind boggling”.

However, it is not necessarily desirable for pieces to be real.

Costume designer Jany Temime, whose credits include House of the Dragon as well as Bond movies Skyfall and Spectre, says that, even when she had access to very expensive pieces, she has “always tried to get the imitation because nothing is worse than having two bodyguards on set walking behind your jewellery”.

Siz rings inscribed with the crests of characters from the HBO series, House of the Dragon
Jessica de Lotz produced six designs for the ‘House of the Dragon’ series © Colin Ross
...including the gold-plated brass ring with Targaryen crest that worn by Paddy Considine, as King Viserys I Targaryen © Home Box Office

She cannot work with antiques because she needs “three or four” of the same piece as there is the actor, a double and a stunt performer, and different units shooting at the same time. “Forget about having one pair of earrings, you need six pairs because they always lose them . . . and different sizes for the ring because the stunt never has the same size as the actor,” she explains.

For this reason, costume designers often source from existing collections. Sales of Shaun Leane’s Sabre Crossover earrings in the three months after they appeared in the third season of Apple TV+ show Ted Lasso, in March 2023, were double the level in the previous year.

But it is harder to measure the impact of screen time for bespoke jewellery items.

Catherine Hills had pieces featured in Harry Potter films from the third instalment, Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban (2004), onwards — including specially-made silver Slytherin house rings and tie pins. She says the work “wasn’t financially lucrative” but has “paid dividends since”. Visitors to her shop in Tunbridge Wells, south-east England, are interested in the story of what she made.

Catherine Hills’ Slytherin ring for Harry Potter © Daisy Brooks

She says film work “definitely” benefits her other work because it gives people confidence. “My problem is negotiating how many emails I get from people begging me to make them the jewellery from Harry Potter,” says Hills, who legally cannot reproduce her bespoke film pieces.

De Lotz, on the other hand, signed a licensing agreement with Warner Bros, which owns HBO, to launch her Fire and Wax collection last April. This includes designs she made for House of the Dragon and additional pieces. She says it has since been a “matter of building trust with all the mega fans who are used to spending £50 on cheap knock-offs”, and demonstrating the craftsmanship behind the jewellery, because hers is “luxury merch”.

Sharing her screen work on social media, including leading actors wearing the jewellery off-camera, has “elevated” her brand, she adds, and put her on the radar of celebrities’ stylists.

During Temime’s Emmy-winning work on the first series of House of the Dragon, she had the in-house jewellery team, within the production’s costume department, make pieces — including chains for the crowd. However, she turned to jewellers including de Lotz for special pieces requiring attention to detail, funded from the overall costume budget.

Temime says it is the exchange of ideas with jewellers that she enjoys in this work: “All of them brought to my costumes a very special touch.”

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