Harry Winston: Synonymous with Glamour and Fame
Ever since Harry Winston draped actress Jennifer Jones in diamonds at the Oscars more than half a century ago, the jewelry company has been synonymous with glamour and fame. From the legacy of Hope Diamond to the sparkle of the red carpet, Winston diamonds have become an icon of international glamour, earning the company a nomination for Luxist's best jewelry line award.
The son of turn-of-the-century Ukrainian immigrants, Winston was a savvy gem-hunter from an early age. As legend has it, a 12-year-old Winston recognized a two-carat emerald in a New York pawnshop, bought it for 25 cents, and sold it two days later for $800. In 1932, he opened his own store, focusing on buying stodgy collections to re-cut, re-set and re-sell.
In 1949, Winston purchased the Hope Diamond from the estate of socialite Evalyn Walsh McLean, who had acquired the gem from Pierre Cartier nearly forty years earlier. Over the next decade, Winston highlighted the stone in his "Court of Jewels," exhibited to audiences across the country -- but not before daringly re-cutting it to increase its brilliance. Winston donated the stone to the Smithsonian in 1958, reportedly sending it in a plain brown paper bag via U.S. Mail.
Winston passed away in 1978 and the company is now publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange (HWD). Today, the company's gems adorn stars from Halle Berry to Madonna. They're also available to the public through Harry Winston Jewelers' two-dozen stores across the world. Just be sure to pack a hefty checkbook before shopping -- Winston rings usually start at around $10,000.
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Gallery: More from Harry Winston