Luxury Has A Name: Harry Winston - The King Of Diamonds

Harry Winston is considered one of the greatest jewelers of the 20th century, the undisputed King of Diamonds. He transformed rough diamonds into absolute wonders.

In Harry Winston's hands, through which the most famous diamonds in the world passed, the precious gems became pieces of art, masterpieces with an innovative design inspired, even dictated, by the beauty of the stones that fascinated him. For him, the stone was the heart of the jewel, not a simple accessory mounted on the precious metal.

Known during his lifetime as the King of Diamonds, Harry Winston was not only one of the greatest jewelers in history but also one of the most important diamond collectors in the world.

Harry Winston - The Success Story Of An Immigrant
His story begins with the success of European immigrants who left for America at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. His Ukrainian Jewish parents emigrated to the United States in 1890. In the same year, his father, Jakob, opened a small jewelry repair shop in Manhattan.

Harry Winston was born six years later, on March 1, 1896. He grew up under the guidance of his father, who took him to his workshop and taught him all about jewelry. In time, Harry became a real master in the art of jewelry making.

Harry's mother died when he was seven years old, the family moved to California. One of the most famous stories about the origins of the jeweler Harry Winston dates back to those years.

"The legend," says that when he was only 12 years old, Harry discovered in a pawnshop a very precious ring with a two-carat emerald. Recognizing its value, he bought it for only 25 cents, because the ignorant seller thought he had a simple tin in front of him. He sold it the next day for $800. And if that's not true, the story confirms a later fact: Harry Winston really had a very good eye for gems.
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An Obsession With A Happy Ending

From a young age, Harry Winston was fascinated by diamonds, even obsessed, so much so that his father warned him that this obsession might end up controlling his life. That's how it was, but no one would have guessed ... In 1914 he returned to New York, where he opened his own jewelry repair shop. Two years later, with the $ 2,000 he had saved, he founded Premier Diamond and began trading on the New York diamond exchange.

He was helped by the experience acquired until then, but also by the eye trained in identifying the precious stones and their potential. In just two years, the company Winston became wealthy - but for a short time, because he was robbed by one of his employees and went bankrupt.

Harry Winston did not give up and discovered a new way to do business in the diamond market. He began to participate in post-mortem auctions when in many cases valuable jewelry could be purchased at ridiculous prices just because it was considered old-fashioned. But Winston took the jewelry, refurbished it, gave it a modern look, and then sold it for much larger sums. That's how he ended up buying whole jewelry collections.

In 1925, Harry Winston bought the collection of Rebecca Darlington Stoddard, the heiress of a mining empire, for one million dollars, and in 1926, that of Arabella Huntington, the wife of tycoon Collis P. Huntington, for two million dollars.

Harry Winston processed the purchased pieces (valuable anyway, many of them being Cartier jewelry), but he remodeled them into innovative pieces, for which new and old rich Americans were willing to pay a lot of money.

Luxury Has A Name - Harry Winton


In 1932, the jeweler officially founded the company that took his name.

Harry Winston has become synonymous with sophisticated luxury, with innovation in the art of jewelry, but especially with diamonds.

Famous among American high life, Harry Winston started a new trend in 1944, when he was the first to lend a set of jewelry to an actress for the Oscars.

Jennifer Jones, winner of the Academy Award for Best Actress that year, shone on the red carpet wearing jewelry created by Harry Winston.

Then, in 1953, Harry Winston's name appeared on the lips of Marilyn Monroe (in the movie "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes"), in the lyrics of the famous song "Diamonds are a woman's best friends". And so those who didn't know him before heard of Harry Winston and his diamonds.

Harry Winston Collection

In 1935, Harry Winston completed the transaction that made him truly famous in his guild. He bought the Jonker diamond, a 726-carat stone (then the seventh-largest diamond in the world) for $700,000. Then he decided to send it to New York (Johannesburg) ... by post/mail!

For just 64 cents, one of the most valuable gems in the world has crossed the Atlantic incognito. Winston then paid $30,000 for the cleavage of the stone, which resulted in a 125-carat diamond and 12 other diamonds, sold for two million dollars.

Harry Winston's passion for diamonds - and his desire to always be the first to buy new stones - even led him to embark on an adventure in South America. In 1938, Winston read in a newspaper that a 726-carat rough diamond had been discovered in Brazil.

To ensure that the gem would not fall into the hands of another jeweler, Harry Winston boarded the plane and set off in search of the stone.

The Vargas diamond also made its place in the Winston collection. The largest gem ever bought by the American jeweler was the one known as Sierra Leone, a 970-carat rough diamond (the third-largest diamond ever discovered). Of these, Harry Winston made no less than 17 stones, the largest of which was 143 carats.

In 1966, Harry Winston bought another valuable 241-carat rough diamond, which he turned into a 70-carat pear-shaped stone. The remarkable piece was bought by the actor Richard Burton for his wife, Elizabeth Taylor, and today it is known as the Taylor-Burton diamond.

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