smart spending

Insuring celebrity red-carpet jewelry

Red carpet
Highlights
  • Jewelers carry "block" insurance, which protects all their inventory should something happen.
  • Celebs are responsible for the jewelry they wear; some even travel with security as an extra safety measure.
  • Items that can catch on things or fall off are the ones that are lost most often.

A red-carpet turn can make you a star -- especially if you're a jeweler.

There's no bigger stage upon which to announce your arrival into the jewelry big leagues than that scarlet-clad sidewalk leading into the Oscar, Grammy, Emmy or MTV Video Music awards shows.

Landing a stunning bracelet on Reese Witherspoon, diamond pendants on Angelina Jolie or a six-figure gem suite on Sandra Bullock can transform a well-kept secret into a household name overnight.

Just ask Jorge Adeler, an Argentina-born custom jeweler whose studio in Great Falls, Va., makes one-of-a-kind jewelry for the wives of movers and shakers in nearby Washington, D.C. Once Hollywood's A-list caught a glimpse of Adeler's artistry, he received so many requests to borrow his pieces that he was forced to open his own showroom in Beverly Hills, Calif., just to accommodate them.

"Hardly a week passes now without us being in one magazine or another: Redbook, InStyle, Martha Stewart, Brides magazine," says 65-year-old Adeler. "It is a great compliment."

It has also been a crash course in how these expensive pieces survive the perilous journey from jeweler's bench to a starlet's neckline and back.

Come along; it's quite a ride.

The match game

How does a 40-carat Harry Winston princess necklace find its way onto the sculpted shoulders of Gwyneth Paltrow as she accepts the 1999 Academy Award for best actress in "Shakespeare in Love"?

"Sometimes the jewelers seek out the individual, sometimes the clothing designer seeks out the jewelry, and sometimes the customer has a relationship with Winston or whomever," says Janece White, vice president and jewelry underwriting specialist for Chubb Group of Insurance Companies.

Adeler says most of his celebrity requests come via a very small group of stylists and photographers. Despite how it may appear on the red carpet, his jewelry is never made for the starlet.

"All the pieces that the celebrities wear were made for my clients, not for the celebrities," he says. "That's the irony: My customers are my celebrities, and the Hollywood celebrities happen to like the pieces that I make for my customers."

While celebrities sometimes purchase the pieces they borrow, it's not the norm for good reason.

Jennifer Lopez
Photo courtesy of Adeler Jewelers

"Jennifer Lopez has used our pieces seven times, but compared to the amount of jewelry a celebrity might use in a given year, that's a drop in the bucket," he says.

'Who are you wearing?'

Celebrities and jewelers long for that microphone moment when the star is asked, "Who are you wearing?" But it takes lots of insurance preparation to make that happen.

White says jewelers typically carry what's called "jewelers block" coverage that protects their entire jewelry inventory. While the block policies of a Harry Winston or Tiffany's may extend coverage to items on loan or consignment, for jewelers such as Adeler, coverage stops at the point of transfer.

"Our insurance covers the jewelry until it's in the celebrity's hands, then they are responsible for it," Adeler says.

The jeweler's insurer will typically require the celebrity to either show proof of sufficient "valuable articles coverage" or sign an agreement that assumes financial responsibility for loss, damage, and theft out of his or her own pocket.

"If the celebrity already has jewelry coverage, their insurer may be able to extend its limits to cover the event," White says. "But if they don't have coverage, it would be very difficult to buy insurance for those couple of days. They would have to buy short-term coverage from an insurance broker through a syndicate like Lloyd's of London, and it would be very expensive."

The transfer

Proof of insurance is just the first step toward the red carpet. The jeweler's underwriter will also ask how the celebrity plans to execute the transfer.

"We need to know when they (are) picking up the jewelry, how the transfer is going to take place, where they are going to keep the jewelry when they take it off at night, and when it will be returned to the jeweler and in what manner," says White.

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