History and Facts about Harry Winston

by Sasha t on Jan 29, 2021

History and Facts about Harry Winston - Jack Weir & Sons

Now that we’ve covered the main jewelry eras and precious gemstones, it’s time for us to dive into famous, world-recognized jewelry designers. Signed jewelry has always been desirable due to its credibility, top quality materials, and exquisite craftsmanship. The industry's famous jewelry names include Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Tiffany & Co, Bvlgari, David Webb, Boucheron, Graff, Buccellati, and many others. This week we will be discussing The Ultimate Jeweler - Harry Winston 

In this blog post you will learn: 

  • Harry Winston’s History
  • Interesting Facts 
  • Vintage Harry Winston Jewelry 
  • Modern Harry Winston Jewelry

Harry Winston’s History

Harry Winston History

After Winston’s family immigrated to America from Ukraine, his father opened a small jewelry store, in which Harry Winston practically grew up. At the age of 12, he recognized a two-carat emerald in a pawn shop, bought it for 25 cents, and resold it a couple of days later for $800. Imagine the value of $800 in 1908! This young, yet talented jeweler started his independent business in 1920 and opened his first Manhattan store in 1932. Harry Winston is often described as - an innate gemologist, the ultimate jeweler, an intuitive businessman, and a passionate philanthropist. In the luxury jewelry community he has been known as the “King of Diamonds”, and the “Jeweler to the Stars”. In his work, the main philosophy is that the gemstones dictate each design; not the settings. 

Curious Facts:

He would always carry a large diamond in his pocket that he liked touching.

He was never publicly photographed fearing hold ups.

Debeers (the main diamond supplier in the world) sold their most important rough diamonds to Harry Winston. 

Interesting Facts

 the Jonker rough diamond harry winston

 In 1935 Harry Winston purchased the Jonker, his first important diamond. A 726-carat rough diamond, which after cutting resulted in 12 gorgeous diamonds. The largest was an emerald cut diamond weighing 125.35 carats. Fun Fact: Harry Winston had a lot of faith in the United States Postal Service. He mailed The Jonker, a precious piece of rough, from its source to his NY headquarters with USPS, paying only $0.64 for postage. After sending the package with USPS, with no insurance, he said "If you can't trust the U.S. Post Office, who can you trust."

By the 40s, Harry Winston’s name was known to the world. Movie stars, royal families, and other celebrities were among his clients. In 1948 Winston met the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. The Duchess who was a passionate jewelry collector initially reached out to Harry Winston herself. In her letter, she wrote: “My friends tell me you have such wonderful things...” The Duke and Duchess of Windsor updated their private collection with some magnificent pieces from Harry Winston, including the famous McLean Diamond.

In 1949 Winston acquired Mrs. Evalyn Walsh McLean’s jewelry collection. The renowned collection included the 94.80 carat Star of the East and the famous Hope Diamond, a 45.52 carat rare vivid blue diamond, previously owned by Louis XIV, Marie Antoinette, and Lord Henry Hope.

 Harry Winston Jewelry Being known for the most gorgeous gemstone collection in the world, Harry Winston went on tour “The Court of Jewels”, with some of his most precious gemstones. The profits from the tour went to leading local charities. In 1952 “Life Magazine” stated that Harry Winston owns the world’s second-largest collection of historic jewels. The world's largest collection is owned by the British royal family.
Marilyn Monroe 
When an all-time Hollywood favorite “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” came out, the soundtrack “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend”, performed by Marilyn Monroe featured the famous line, “Talk to me, Harry Winston! Tell me all about it!”
the Hope DiamondAfter owning it for several years, Winston decided to donate the Hope Diamond to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., as a gift to the world. The donation helps to establish the museum’s National Gem Collection. To donate the famous gemstone Harry Winston shipped it via USPS, paying only $2.44 for the postage. 
The story goes, that the Hope Diamond is cursed. Some sources declare that they found factual evidence that proves 13 previous owners fell victim to the diamond's curse. 

Vintage Harry Winston Jewelry

Winston Cluster by Harry Winston

Winston Cluster by Harry Winston - Mr. Winston believed that the gemstone’s natural brilliance should take the lead in jewelry designs. In the 1940s, he developed the “Winston Cluster”, a signature setting style where pear, marquise, and round brilliant diamonds are set at varying angles to create sculptural, three-dimensional designs that capture the light from all directions to produce irresistible sparkle. 

In 1989, Harry Winston introduced his first timepiece, entering the industry of watchmaking. He later established watchmaking headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland - the capital of all quality watches. 

Modern Harry Winston Jewelry

Winston Kaleidoscope - these magnificent pendants display a kaleidoscope of colors. Radiating irresistible sparkle, outstanding gemstones, and whimsical geometric shapes.

Winston Kaleidoscope 

Winston Candy - the candy-colored universe of extraordinary gemstones. Carefully selected for their one of a kind qualities, the rarest color stones have been used for this collection. The Winston Candy collection features mandarin garnets, pastel sapphires, tourmalines, vibrant spinels, and other precious gemstones.
Originally, Winston created a series of archival sketches in the 1950s and 60s that were never brought to life by his experienced jewelers. Only in recent years, brightly colored sketches became tangible, magnificent cocktail rings. Each ring presents nature’s elements in a form of bejeweled confections that demand attention. 
Harry Winston archives harry winston cocktail rings

The Bottom Line

Favored by iconic figures like Jacqueline Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, and the royal families, Harry Winston has established themselves as a pillar of the jewelry world. Highest quality gemstones, extraordinary designs, and an unbeatable legacy, Harry Winston will always be at the heart of the jewelry world. 



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