Find out which pieces he loved most

By Sarah Kinonen
Updated August 27, 2015 01:00 PM
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Neil Lane’s dazzling diamond designs have be worn by stars on the red carpet for decades — from established A-listers including Reese Witherspoon and Catherine Zeta-Jones to newcomers like teen pop singer Lorde. And recently, the legendary jewelry designer opened up to PEOPLE to share some of his megawatt (and multimillion-dollar) celeb-worn favorites.


Getty/Courtesy Neil Lane

Lane’s been on virtually every huge red carpet for many, many years, providing stars with pieces custom (he spent all night before the Oscars making Kate Winslet’s earrings longer), vintage (he’ll swap new jewels in and out of archive pieces) and priceless (Jennifer Garner’s Oscars necklace came from the vault). Many celebs will buy their pieces — Gwyneth Paltrow called up right after the 2002 Oscars to purchase her whole set — but occasionally, he’ll gift a pair with sentimental value to the star.

“When Reese Witherspoon won her Golden Globe, the first one, I did gift her those earrings,” Lane tells PEOPLE at the Beverly Hilton 60th anniversary party (it’s the “diamond” anniversary — get it?) in Beverly Hills. “[Not the same pair that’s on display], but the exact materials, same everything. I just made them for the event. So she has those. I think it’s great to share these things with people.”


Getty/Courtesy Neil Lane

While Lane says he gets inspiration for future pieces from everywhere, including diamonds from his archived vintage collections, he occasionally has to create brand-new jewels on the spot. When Catherine Zeta-Jones’ dress color changed at the eleventh hour for the 2004 premiere of The Terminal, Lane had to work his jewelry-making magic right up until the event.

“Three nights before she comes to do the premiere, her people call and say, She’s not wearing yellow. She’s wearing black. So I say, ‘Oh shucks,’ ” he tells PEOPLE. “So we had to start doing it again. She calls me, she’s at The Beverly Hills Hotel. I take a bag of tricks with me. I took chains. I took earrings. I didn’t know what to take. I say, ‘What about diamond chains?’ She says, ‘Okay, cool.’ I said, ‘What about two diamond chains?’ She says, ‘Oh yeah, cool.’ I said, ‘What about three chains?’ I said, ‘What about 10?’ Layered, layered chains. And then she put them on and she walked out the door and it became a really memorable, historical look.”


Getty/Courtesy Neil Lane

And sometimes, Lane says, all it takes is a simple statement piece to complete a look: Remember Halle Berry’s 10-carat (each!) earrings she wore to the 2011 Oscars? “I mean, what do you need with Halle Berry?” he says. “Her short hair, her little dress, 10-carat diamonds each and one big diamond ring. That’s about it.”


Getty/Courtesy Neil Lane

While most of Lane’s megawatt designs make their appearances on red carpets (or in Rihanna’s case, sidewalks) there’s one memorable moment from the 2003 Video Music Awards, featuring a necklace worn by Madonna, that people still talk about.

“I love the Madonna kiss — everyone remembered when she kissed Britney. [The necklace] was from my archives and it represented a dominatrix,” he explains, then compares the performers to the diamond balls on the chain. “Madonna, she’s the middle one, she’s the dominatrix. Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera [are the smaller ones on either side]. So I think that was really cool.”


Getty/Courtesy Neil Lane

He also recently had a standout moment with a necklace he made for red carpet newcomer Lorde, who wore 100 carats of diamonds with a crop top to this year’s Golden Globes.

“I think it’s really cool for a teenager at The Golden Globes” to wear a necklace like that, he says. “And for her to put [the necklace] on, it was, like, amazing. Stunning.”

Just don’t ask him to pick a favorite: “I think every one of these jewels are amazing.”

Which Neil Lane look is your favorite? How would you like to own a million-dollar piece of jewelry? Share below!

–Sarah Kinonen, reporting by Abby Stern

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