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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

I'm Melissa Block.

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

And I'm Michele Norris. And this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

BLOCK: It's an award season staple of the red carpet C-list celebrities shove microphones in the faces of stars higher up in the Hollywood Pantheon, and they ask, who are you wearing?

Unidentified Woman #1: Now, how many dresses did you have to try on before you picked this?

Unidentified Woman #2: About five.

BLOCK: But it's not just the dress designers getting name checked.

Unidentified Woman #1: And look at these earrings - what…

Unidentified Woman #2: Aren't they stunning?

Unidentified Woman #1: …oh, my God.

Unidentified Woman #2: Aren't they stunning?

Unidentified Woman #1: Who are those?

Unidentified Woman #2: Those are Lorraine Schwartz.

Unidentified Woman #1: Yes, I love her.

Unidentified Woman #2: They're really extraordinary.

Unidentified Woman #1: Architectural.

BLOCK: We sent reporter Jesse Baker to the heart of the diamond district in Manhattan to visit jewelry designer Lorraine Schwartz. Jesse tried to sneak a peek at what Schwartz is going to be sending down the red carpet at the Academy Awards on Sunday.

JESSE BAKER: If Beyonce wants someone to put a ring on it, that ring had better come from Lorraine Schwartz.

(Soundbite of song, "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)")

BEYONCE (Singer): (Singing) If you liked it, then you should have put a ring on it. If you liked it, then you should have put a ring on it. Don't be mad…

BAKER: That shiny gold glove the pop star is sporting in her "Single Ladies" video is actually a full-arm piece Schwartz crafted out of titanium. And when Beyonce married Jay-Z last spring, the ring he put on her finger - you got it -it came from Lorraine Schwartz.

Ms. LORRAINE SCHWARTZ (Jewelry Designer): What can I say? She's my muse. You couldn't ask for a better canvas to show your jewelry on.

BAKER: Schwartz put pink diamonds on Barbra Streisand, was selling jewelry to Justin Timberlake back when he was still buying gifts for a girl named Britney, and she's made house calls to Elizabeth Taylor.

Ms. SCHWARTZ: When a client comes to me, I look at them and I say, what's the look you want to feel?

BAKER: If you can't afford to be one of her clients, you can still keep up on her trends. There are plenty of glossy pictures of stars accessorizing with Schwartz's work in InStyle magazine.

Hal Rubenstein is the fashion director.

Mr. HAL RUBENSTEIN (Fashion Director, InStyle): All clothes are about seduction, whether you're seducing other people or even seducing yourself. And I think that's something that Lorraine's jewelry does. You get seduced into having a good time when you put it on.

BAKER: Seduced was not at all what I was feeling when I tried to walk into Lorraine Schwartz's building in Manhattan's diamond district. The guards took my recording gear, and I did my best to convince them that nothing in my bag would help me smuggle diamonds out. They even digitally fingerprinted me. But the intimidation stops the moment you walk into Schwartz's office. You forget all about the Fort Knox security system and you let the jewels overtake you.

InStyle's Rubenstein says this is exactly what makes Schwartz stand out. She doesn't treat her work like it belongs in some glass box on display.

Ms. SCHWARTZ: It's lots and lots and lots of bins and jewelry all over the table and plastic bags with jewelry on the table.

BAKER: It's like opening a treasure chest.

Mr. RUBENSTEIN: Lorraine has everything in, like, zip-lock bags, buried in a drawer, you know, shoved up in a shelf. They come out of her handbag, and she (unintelligible) it, and she sort of shakes these things and out come these fabulous pieces of fantasy.

BAKER: Pink gold, jade, titanium, gems set in gems, carved blue topaz and black diamonds - Schwartz even weaves gold into a mesh-like cloth that twists and drapes and gives way to the contours of the body. She's created jewel-encrusted tiaras for royal families, and earned herself the title The Queen of Bling.

Ms. SCHWARTZ: You know, I look at it as a compliment. I definitely think my jewelry can be over-the-top. But that's part of the reason why it's so wearable because it's not taken too seriously.

BAKER: Three generations in Lorraine Schwartz's family have been in the diamond trade in Manhattan, and she's not quite sure what her grandfather would think of her bling status.

Ms. SCHWARTZ: I'm hoping that he would be very proud of me because, I think, we definitely make our own statement. I think that my mother is probably smiling because she sees a lot of herself in everything I do. We're making a little bit of history. So, hey - I mean, the Oscars - all this is part of that.

BAKER: Lorraine Schwartz would not give me any hints about what she was working up for this year's Academy Awards. She says the competition between the designers to get on the red carpet can be nasty, but it's all worth it when you get to spend the day helping the stars shine.

For NPR News, I'm Jesse Baker in New York.

(Soundbite of song, "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)")

BEYONCE: (Singing) Oh, oh, oh.

NORRIS: And there's more bling from Lorraine Schwartz, including red carpet pictures at npr.org.

(Soundbite of song, "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)")

BEYONCE: (Singing) Don't be mad once you see that he want it. If you liked it, then you should have put a ring on it. Oh, oh, oh. If you liked it, then you should have put a ring on it. If you liked it, then you should have put a ring on it. Don't be made once you see that he want it. If you liked it, then you should have put a ring on it. Oh, oh, oh.

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