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'Catching Fire': Meet the jeweler who created Peeta's necklace and the Mockingjay pin

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Image Credit: Lionsgate; Dana Schneider Jewelry

Peeta’s necklace plays an important role in Catching Fire and so does Dana Schneider, the jewelry designer who created it.

Though she’d provided pieces for the first installment of the Hunger Games movie franchise and has collaborated with Catching Fire costume designer Trish Summerville on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Ray Donovan, Schneider — whose jewelry designs have also been seen in movies like Elektra, X-Men II, and Man of Steel — still did her Hunger Games homework before pitching herself for Catching Fire. “I had read all of the books. When I met with [Trish] I knew which specific pieces had to be in the film,” Schneider told EW.

“I knew Peeta’s necklace was going to be pretty prominent, and it’s hard to make a locket that looks masculine. I got this idea about how the case would flip off and reveal this folding inside. I knew the special effects people could put in CGI images on the locket, so I tried to focus on the silhouette and how it functioned,” Schneider explained. “The first thing I made was a little taped-together cardboard locket that I showed Trish. She liked how it functioned, so then [I began] making it in metal. It was an organic, evolving process.” The jewelry designer spent three weeks crafting a metal prototype to show Summerville and director Francis Lawrence. Once she’d gotten the thumbs up, Schneider created three functioning lockets for Josh Hutcherson, and three replicas for the actor’s body and stunt doubles. “The prop department also made a ‘soft stunt piece’ without hard edges for the heavier stunts,” she explained.

Schneider said she used the same strategy to create the iconic Mockingjay pin for the first Hunger Games movie, a design she tweaked for Catching Fire. “I was able to refine how I made the arrow and the piece itself. It was nice to have the opportunity to streamline it a little bit more for this one.” How does she keep track of the precious pins, which would make great mementos or fetch top dollar on the collectibles market?

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Image Credit: Dana Schneider Jewelry

“I’m not sure where they all go. Sometimes I think they’re gifted to the actors or a producer will take one. I do know that they had a few left over that they’ll use in Mockingjay, which they’re filming this fall. I think it is miraculous that they weren’t all absconded with.”

While a licensed replica of the Mockingjay pin is sold in stores, Schneider doesn’t share in the profits. “I have nothing to do with that, I’m not allowed to sell them. Lionsgate has the rights to market them. They took one of my lockets and came up with an inexpensive way to produce it. I think they did a nice job, but it’s a little different from my original,” the designer said. “I read somewhere that they sold something like 15 million dollars worth of Mockingjay pins for The Hunger Games, which is pretty insane. Of course, I would have loved to have a piece of that but I’m not a big company like Cartier, so it’s usually pretty difficult for me to get credit. I do get a [mention] in Catching Fire at the end of the film, which is great.”

Fans of Schneider’s work can buy pieces seen in movies like The Wolverine and The Mortal Instruments and TV shows like Nashville, Glee, and Californication – and worn by celebrities including Rooney Mara and Pink — at danaschneider.com. Coming soon, her work will appear in the pilot episode of director Guillermo del Toro’s sci-fi TV series, The Strain, though details are classified. “It is such a top-secret project, but I’ll say I’m making a lot of unexpected jewelry for that,” the designer hinted. “Some are pieces from my general collection and I’m custom making pieces too.”

Though the financial rewards for the work she does on the big and small screens may not be great, Schneider insisted it’s not about money. “I’ve always loved jewelry in film, going back to when I was a little kid. Being a part of a movie is an honor.”

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