A Timeline of Harry Winston’s Glittering Legacy

Much like their jewelry, the House of Harry Winston boasts a brilliant and illustrious history. Founded in 1932 in New York City by Mr. Harry Winston himself — a passionate gemologist, instinctive businessman, and dedicated philanthropist — the luxury brand continues to set high standards for fine jewelry and upscale timepieces. Mr. Winston was known throughout his life as the “Jeweler to the Stars” and “King of Diamonds.” His unique philosophy toward design — in which individual gemstones dictate each design instead of the metal settings — revolutionized fine jewelry, remaining a timeless aesthetic that continues to inspire all Harry Winston creations.

Harry Winston Through the Years


Mr. Harry Winston founded Harry Winston, Inc. The year 1932 marked the beginning of an unforgettable, extraordinary legacy.


Harry Winston invested in his first significant diamond — “the Jonker.” The 726-carat uncut rough diamond made headlines all over the world. After much deliberation on the safest way to deliver the gemstone to his headquarters in New York, Mr. Winston decided to send the diamond via regular registered mail for $0.64. Cleaving the Jonker resulted in twelve individual diamonds. The largest was an emerald cut that weighed a total of 125.35 carats.


After reading a newspaper article about a 726.60-carat rough diamond discovered in Brazil, Mr. Winston did not hesitate to embark on a cross-continent journey to track the glorious gemstone. Traveling by plane to Brazil first, then by boat to Antwerp, Mr. Winston examined and bought the remarkable piece of rough called “the Vargas.”


Gaining inspiration from the geometry of nature, Harry Winston and his design team pioneered the innovative technique of clustering, in which individual diamonds and not the metal settings would determine the jewelry design. The technique — also known as the Winston Cluster design — maximizes the brilliance of each stone.


Harry Winston became the “Jeweler to the Stars,” as he was the first to lend diamonds to a celebrity during the 16th Academy Awards. Mr. Winston dressed Jennifer Jones, the evening’s Best Actress winner.


Harry Winston met the Duke and Duchess of Windsor for the first time. Before their meeting, Wallis Simpson, the Duchess of Windsor and avid jewelry collector, sent Harry Winston a letter saying, “My friends tell me you have such wonderful things…” Both the Duke and Duchess went on to purchase several pieces from the jewelry house, including the famed McLean Diamond.


Harry Winston obtained the complete jewelry collection of Mrs. Evalyn Walsh McLean, an American socialite. Some pieces include the 94.80-carat Star of the East, as well as the renowned Hope Diamond, a 45.52-carat rare blue diamond that King Louis XIV, Marie Antoinette, and Lord Henry Hope previously owned.


Charmed by the beauty and symmetry of one of nature’s finest blooms, Harry Winston and his design team introduced the Sunflower motif. 


Life Magazine reported that Harry Winston possessed the world’s second-largest collection of historic jewels. The British royal family owns the largest collection.


Harry Winston opened his first international retail salon in Geneva, Switzerland. A location in Paris, France followed in 1957.


As a gift to the world, Harry Winston donated the Hope Diamond to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. The generous donation helped establish the museum’s National Gem Collection.


Harry Winston moved his New York salon to 718 Fifth Avenue, marking one of the biggest moves in jewelry history. The location became the permanent residence to Harry Winston’s Flagship Salon, Design Studio, and Archives.


Harry Winston invested in a 241-carat piece of rough diamond, which he had cut into a 69.42-carat pear-shaped diamond. Actor Richard Burton eventually purchased the gemstone for his wife, actress Elizabeth Taylor, which then renamed the stone to the Taylor-Burton Diamond.


Harry Winston broadcasted on live television the cleaving of a rough diamond, the 601-carat Lesotho. The Lesotho eventually produced eighteen majestic gems, including a 71.73-carat emerald-cut, as well as a 40.42-carat marquise-cut diamond that Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis purchased as an engagement ring for Jacqueline Kennedy.


Harry Winston cut a 75.52-carat D-flawless pear-shaped diamond from a 204-carat rough. Mr. Winston named the exquisite gemstone the Star of Independence in celebration of the American Bicentennial.


On 28 December 1978, Harry Winston — a leading pioneer in diamond trade — died in New York City at the age of 82.


Harry Winston’s legacy lives on. The luxury jewelry house opened its first retail salon in Japan, in Tokyo.


Harry Winston launched its first collection of timepieces, entering the world of fine watchmaking.


The Harry Winston Gallery opened at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., which continued to house the famed Hope Diamond.


Harry Winston introduced the Opus Series, representing a collaboration between the House and master watchmakers. The Opus Series features a new limited edition timepiece annually in partnership with distinguished horologists.


Harry Winston introduced the world’s first timepiece materialized from Zalium — a revolutionary, zirconium-based alloy.


Harry Winston opened a Timepiece Manufacture in Geneva, Switzerland — the watchmaking capital of the world. 


Harry Winston debuted the New York Collection, which the glamour of Manhattan inspired. Further, the House launched Histoire de Tourbillon, an exclusive collection of watches dedicated to the intricate craftsmanship of one of fine watchmaking’s most renowned complications.


Inspired by the captivating shape of lilies in bloom, Harry Winston introduced the Lily Cluster Collection, a modern interpretation of the iconic Winston Cluster motif.


Harry Winston debuted Ultimate Adornments, an exceptionally high-end jewelry collection handcrafted from diamonds and platinum. The refined collection describes a journey through heritage, traditions, and culture.


Harry Winston made available to the world “Water by Harry Winston,” a collection of jewelry exploring the extraordinary wonders of the world and its most precious elements: water and rare gemstones.


Harry Winston, Inc. obtained the 101.73-carat Winston Legacy diamond. Christie’s auction house described the flawless, colorless pear-shaped beauty as “the most perfect diamond ever offered for sale at auction.”


On May 15th, 2014 in Geneva, Switzerland, Harry Winston Inc. announced the acquisition of a rare 13.22-carat, flawless, fancy-vivid blue diamond, which was named the “Winston Blue.” The magnificent pear-shaped stone could be the largest of its kind.


From acquiring some of the world’s most sought-after gemstones to embellishing generations of famous faces for over eight decades, the Harry Winston name has been synonymous with unparalleled luxury. Today, the House of Harry Winston upholds its tradition of quality, creativity, and rarity without compromise in its retail salons across the globe, including New York, Paris, Geneva, Tokyo, London, Hong Kong, and Shanghai. 

About Biltmore Loan and Jewelry

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