“Talk to me, Harry Winston, tell me all about it!” it says on the lyrics of one of the most famous songs in the world, Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend. It’s been sung by the likes of Marilyn Monroe in her 1953 film, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, and by Nicole Kidman in her 2001 cult classic, Moulin Rouge!. The Harry Winston both women refer to on the song isn’t necessarily the person itself, but the name of one of the most luxurious jewelers in the world. The name itself conjures up ideas of sparkle, shimmer, and shine—whether they be diamonds, emeralds, rubies, etc. This is why the name is found in the iconic lyrics.
Above all else, Harry Winston is known for their beautiful array of diamonds. Some of the most sparkling and the most shimmering pieces come from this illustrious American label. Whichever item one has of theirs, they’ll truly shine. They complete every outfit with a touch of class and luxury, unlike any other label. They epitomize American class and international taste. To this day, people from all over the world buy Harry Winston jewelry, making them one of the most well-known and beloved brands in the world today.
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When it comes to diamonds, Harry Winston boasts a prized selection of iconic and scene-stealing pieces. One their first is The Jonker, which they acquired back in 1935. This square-shaped crystal stone is one of the famous diamonds in history and has since been copied by other jewelers through the years. Arguably their most famous, or more appropriately most infamous, is the blue Hope Diamond. It’s known to be a cursed necklace upon which misfortune has befallen all that have bought and owned it. It also inspired a central piece in the 1997 film hit, Titanic, named the “Heart Of The Ocean” diamond. A replica of the said diamond was even worn by singer Celine Dion when she sang her Academy-Award winning song, My Heart Will Go On, during the 1998 Oscars ceremony.
The company was founded in 1932 by gemologist and philanthropist, Mr. Harry Winston. During its early years, Winston himself traveled to far off places to acquire some of the most legendary, biggest, and most iconic stones in the world. He traveled to Belgium, Brazil, India, and many others to get various diamonds for his line. In the 1940’s, the company developed a way of clustering their pieces together, which make it seem that the piece is all about the diamonds and not the metal base. With this innovation, they eventually became known for their diamond-encrusted pieces, which were bought some of the most prominent people in history.
Also in the 1940’s, they started lending, sometimes even giving, their pieces to Hollywood stars, earning the moniker “Jeweler to the Stars.” This practice gained them wider brand awareness, and soon, multitudes of people began buying from the company. Throughout the 20th century, the company acquired some of the most famous jewelry sets from prominent socialites and political figures, selling them under their own name to other high-profile clients. One of their most famous exploits was the jewelry collection of American socialite Evalyn Walsh McLean, which included the infamous “Hope Diamond.”
Red carpet history
Among all the premier jewelers in the luxury goods game, only Harry Winston earned the nickname, “Jeweler to the Stars” for their practice of lending their pieces to celebrities for red carpet events. It all started in 1944 when the company lent a set for actress Jennifer Jones for the Academy Awards ceremony. That year, she won the Oscar for Best Actress and she shone on the Oscars stage with her Harry Winston pieces. From then on, multiple actresses have worn the label’s jewels during the prestigious event, including the likes of Charlize Theron, Natalie Portman, and Kerry Washington.
Entering the world of watchmaking
Harry Winston delved into the watchmaking industry a little later than its contemporaries. Compared to some of the biggest high-end brands, 1989 is decades and even centuries behind. Nevertheless, Harry Winston showed the lack of experience in the industry wasn’t a setback. If anything, entering it later was just a challenge of adaptation, which all brands should do as the times change, whether it just recently launched or is more than a hundred years old.
Having already been a producer of fine jewelry, Harry Winston has a lot of design hallmarks and a little bit of the brand’s historical influences to integrate into the new timepieces. It had a set of “Signature Codes” which followed the type of visual designs set by its founder.
Three prominent design elements frequently grace Harry Winston watches: the three arches as with the façade of the brand’s salon in New York, the emerald shape of some watch models which is also seen in the brand’s logo, and the blue hue imitated from the brand’s famous Hope Diamond gem.
Merging jewelry expertise with watchmaking process
The brand’s extensive experience in producing jewelry somewhat informed their approach to producing timepieces. The watches’ beauty is taken from their knowledge in designing jewelry, while everything else needed for making watches, they got from existing technology. Traditional Swiss horology was eventually added into the mix as the brand became part of the Swatch Group and a new watchmaking facility was established in Geneva.
Harry Winston showed that it wasn’t lacking in anything as their debut Premier Collection immediately consisted of at least 50 watches. It was followed by the Ocean and Midnight Collection, the former being for sporty purposes with trendy aesthetics while the latter exuded timelessness and classic qualities.
As a brand that now produces both jewelry and watches, their High Jewelry Timepieces exhibit the marriage of both in single models. Dubbed as “jewels that tell time,” this collection involved jewelry pieces like brooches, pendants, and even clutch bags that hide a usable function of a watch within it.
More prominent clients of the brand
Aside from Hollywood celebrities, Harry Winston has catered to some of the most high-profile clients any brand would wish to have. In the late 1940’s, The Duke and Duchess of Windsor began buying from the label. The Duchess became known for her exquisite taste in fashion and jewelry, of which Harry Winston helped make even more prominent. In 1968, Greek billionaire Aristotle Onassis bought a Harry Winston ring for his engagement to former US First lady Jacqueline Onassis. It was one of the most famous and widely-known engagement rings in history.
Across the globe, Harry Winston still operates to this day, as a reminder of old-school luxury and glamour. Some of today’s newest and hottest A-list Hollywood stars still depend on the decades-old label to give them their needed sparkle and shine when rocking the red carpet. With such longevity and prominent, Harry Winston has defied many of the luxury goods game and continues to be one of the premier jewelers in the world.
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