[Video] Stage Jewels of the Comédie-Française

How do you play Phaedra without a tiara or Nero without a crown? The little-known jewelry of the Parisian theater is nonetheless rich in history and craftsmanship. The groundbreaking exhibition "Stage Jewels of the Comédie-Française", which will be presented by L’ÉCOLE, School of Jewelry Arts and to which this talk is dedicated, lifts the curtain on these masters of illusion.

In essence, stage jewelry is an imitation. Made of alloys and vitreous materials, including pearls, it is not designed to be precious. But it's much more than just an accessory. With a precise dramaturgical function, stage jewelry can be used to assert power, reveal love or uncover a secret identity.

The growth in the number of concert halls in the 19th century amplified the presence of stage jewelry. With this grew the reputation of "stage jewelry" workshops, where craftspeople filled orders for pectoral necklaces, combs and swords from actors and actresses who designed and financed their own wardrobes. Close-set or bead-set, carvings of plant motifs evoking a return to antiquity, the use of gems: the craftsmanship is so meticulous that the parallel with jewelry is obvious.

With Agathe Sanjuan, Curator of the exhibition “Stage Jewelry from the Comédie-Française” and Director of the Museum-Library of the Comédie-Française & Gilliane Berardini, Art Historian and Lecturer at L’ÉCOLE, School of Jewelry Arts & Paul Paradis, Art Historian and Lecturer at L’ÉCOLE, School of Jewelry Art. 

Photo: Star tiara, 19th century © Coll. Comédie-Française - Photo: L'École des Arts Joailliers - Benjamin Chelly

Stage Jewels of the Comédie-Française