Colorful Choreography: Jewelry Plays a Starring Role in Carrie Ann Inaba’s Personal and Professional Life

Dancing With The Star’s Carrie Ann Inaba Wearing AGTA Spectrum Awards-Winning Jewelry.

DALLASSept. 14, 2020 — The  American Gem Trade Association (AGTA) releases an exclusive interview with The Talk Host and Dancing With The Stars judge, Carrie Ann Inaba, who graces the cover of jewelry industry magazines wearing 2019 AGTA Spectrum Awards™ Winning Collection jewelry shot by world-renowned photographer, Brian Bowen Smith.

Given her love of artistic fine jewelry, Carrie Ann Inaba was an ideal model for this year’s American Gem Trade Association (AGTA) Spectrum and Cutting Edge Awards™ photo shoot.

“It was an honor to wear one-of-a-kind works that were created by craftsmen,” she reveals in an interview with AGTA.

For sure, jewelry is integral to Inaba’s self-expression and heritage. The Hawaiian-born dancer, choreographer, actress, and television personality recalls the staple of every girl on the islands: 24K gold and Jade bracelets featuring their Hawaiian names. “That’s a tradition,” she explains of her upbringing in the Aloha State.

As her skills as a performer strengthened, so too did Inaba’s affection for jewelry. Memories of her mother’s gold and Diamond necklaces stuck with her through teen talent competitions and song releases in Tokyo (where she lived for two years – Inaba is part Japanese), hitching a mental ride back with her to the States when she relocated again to pursue a career in entertainment. It was in California where she studied choreography and fell in love with dancing, a passion on full display in spots on In Living Color, as a dancer on tour with Madonna, and in myriad appearances on awards shows and in working with other artists.

Stylist Tod Hallman, a fixture on every AGTA set, confirmed firsthand knowledge of Inaba’s devotion to dance. “She was full of energy and wanted to be expressive,” he says of dressing her. From a ball gown to a jacket-and-pants combo to a one-shouldered floral frock, Inaba couldn’t remain motionless in any of Hallman’s outfits.

“I told her, ‘I need you to stand still a little bit to get the shot,'” he laughs in retrospect. “Some talent can be stiff, but she was ready to move!”

Of course, that ability is why she is best known for her role on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars (DWTS). The 28-season veteran is frequently shown sitting behind a long judge’s table where she and her peers watch performances, making accessories integral to conveying a compelling look.

“The jewelry choice has often been more important than the dress choice, as what you see when I am in the judge’s seat is really from the waist up,” she explains about dressing for the show.

For that reason, Inaba and her DWTS team aim to create drama through jewelry selections. Think pieces with colored stones (“My favorite are deep green,” she reveals) or Diamonds in either super simple silhouettes or graphic ones. “Nothing really ornate unless it’s paired with a simple dress where you let the jewelry be a highlight,” she says.

Meanwhile, she reserves brightly colored jewels – some in subtle profiles – for wear on her CBS daytime program The Talk for their silent stamina. “I like to add energy through the jewelry I choose,” she says.

In daily life, accessorizing is one of Inaba’s favorite activities. “I love a great statement ring or earrings,” she says. “My stylist always teases me, as the one thing I always do is accessorize, even before I come to work.”

As for colors and style, warm hues of rose and yellow gold (just like her mom) are among her faves, as is black Tourmaline – “It’s the crystal I wear the most,” she says. Then there’s Turquoise: “It’s a stone that looks good with white, yellow, or pink,” she observes.

Inaba also likes hoop earrings and – not surprisingly – jewels that move and sway with her own graceful and constant motion.

“I like small gold earrings that have parts that move,” she adds. “My choice of jewelry is like stylization of a move. Jewelry adds the special flare – similar to how I create choreography in dance – and can subtly tell the eyes where to go.”

Artistry is equally important. “When I am on location, I love to go shopping in boutiques,” she says. “Seeing pieces created to be art is special since I am an artist myself.”

Inaba certainly brought this appreciation of design to the AGTA set. “The shoot had beautiful fine pieces,” she recollects. “It was a special feeling to wear living art.”

The Ice Butterfly pin and pendant by Evy Edelman of Designs by Evy struck a particular chord. Perched on the wide lapel of a black double-breasted sequin blazer, the sprawling insect set in 18K white gold featured carved white Jadeite wings, Emeralds, Diamonds, and Tourmalines, and a white freshwater baroque Pearl positioned as a lustrous crown. The jewel took an Honorable Mention in the Bridal Wear division of the Spectrum Awards.

“It had beautiful details,” Inaba recalls.

The jewel was doubly important for its meaning. “I just started a production company with the word ‘monarch’ in it because the monarch butterfly represents transformation,” she says.

Opals, too, spoke to Inaba – a fact confirmed by Kami Swinney, AGTA Operations Manager. “She was really into the Opals she wore in the blue dress,” says Swinney, who was also on set. The dress? A shimmering navy off-the-shoulder gown by Theia. The jewels? A feathery-looking necklace featuring a 49.80 ct. boulder Opal in 18K white gold with blue Sapphires, tsavorite Garnets, and Diamonds with matching earrings by Tanja Schuetz of DuftyWeis Opals, Inc. The necklace took First Place in Evening Wear.

“I really loved the large stone necklace,” says Inaba. “The artistry was so impressive in all the pieces. You could see the care and detail that went into making them.”

For further information regarding the AGTA Spectrum Awards™, contact Kami Swinney at (800) 972-1162 or visit the AGTA website at

The American Gem Trade Association is a not-for-profit Association serving the natural colored gemstone and cultured pearl industry since 1981.  Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, The AGTA serves the industry as “The Authority in Color.”