Celebrity jewelers have been an integral part of the jewelry world for as long as we can remember. From Lorraine Schwartz to Jacob the Jeweler, many have left their mark– though none compare to to the original “King of Diamonds”, Harry Winston.
Founded by the man himself in 1920, Harry Winston began its story in New York City. By 1926, he acquired the collection of industrialist Arabella Huntington, though rather than sell them as mementos or collector’s items, he controversially refashioned the stones into new jewels, showcasing his brand’s unique craftsmanship and elegance– as well as its bravery. The first Harry Winston boutique opened in 1932, spearheading his rise as the preeminent diamond jeweler of the 20th Century. Selling to sultans and singers alike, the House of Harry Winston was particularly esteemed for their collection of famous gems, many of which are displayed at the Smithsonian Museum in D.C. to this day! Harry Winston’s legacy lives on to this day, with the company presently operating 39 stores across 3 continents.
Known for unparalleled gems and magnificent design, Winston’s reputation spread fast across the globe. When the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, the highest royalty in Great Britain, approached Winston, the brand was solidified as the most important jeweler in the world– and perhaps in modern history. Harry Winston was the hub for names such as Elizabeth Taylor, Jacqueline Kennedy, and Marilyn Monroe– who famously quipped “Talk to me Harry Winston, tell me all about it!” in her famed song “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend”.
Winston’s reputation, however, was not built on mingling with clients or designing custom pieces– he lived quite a reserved life and was not one for the spotlight. Rather, what put Harry Winston on the map in such an aggressive manner was his second-to-none collection of diamonds and gemstones. Often buying the largest rough diamonds in production as well as the largest estates from known socialites, Harry Winston amassed the most valuable jewelry collection (outside of the Crown Jewels) in the world. Notable diamonds include the “Jonker Collection” (a set of twelve gems that were fashioned out a single 718-carat rough diamond), The “Briolette of India” (a 90.38 carat D Color Diamond), and most famously, the “Hope Diamond”, which was donated to the Smithsonian Institute in 1958 and has attracted millions of eyes a year since the exhibition opened.
Harry Winston was the first true “celebrity jeweler” of modern lore– and is truly beyond compare. Though his collection was second-to-none, Harry’s vision and pioneering was the true driving force behind his rise to the top. Billionaire, socialites, royalty and collectors sing Harry Winston’s praises to this day and the brand remains as strong as ever.