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A Day for Diamonds: The Dazzling History of Harry Winston


Life & Style

“Diamonds convey permanence and power, but also love and romance. They represent clarity, luminosity, brilliance, status and glamour. And as Harry Winston perceived early and always, diamonds, like Proust’s madeleines, have the ability to evoke the most profound moments of happiness.” ~ Andre Leon Talley, Harry Winston.

Of all of the profound moments of a woman’s life, Valentine’s Day perhaps holds the most expectation and hope—a day of love, spoken and unspoken. As Andre Leon Talley so beautifully pointed out, the gift of diamonds can say amour in a way only the rarest of gemstones can. Called “the King of Diamonds,” “the genius of gemstones” and “the jeweler to the stars,” Harry Winston understood the lasting effect a dazzling diamond necklace or a rare sapphire ring could have on a woman. He once said: “People will stare. Make it worth their while.” And so, when a man gives a woman a diamond, he is not just offering her an enduring symbol of his affection—but a moment worthy of a thousand adoring eyes, forever and always. To celebrate the day of love, Previews Inside Out takes a look at the Harry Winston book(Rizzoli, $85) and the sparkling history of one of the world’s most acclaimed jewelers.

The Harry Winston book leads us through the jeweler’s iconic advertising campaigns, to historic images, to celebrity photos and finally, to the legendary stones with which the company has worked, including the Hope Diamond, the most visited exhibit at the Smithsonian. Winston’s jewelry empire reputedly began in 1908, when at the age of 12, he spied a ring with a green stone priced at 25 cents in a pawnshop window. As a son of a small local jeweler, Winston instinctively knew it was a fine emerald and eventually sold the stone for $800. His first major jewel acquisition followed later with the famous collection of Arabella Huntingdon. From then on, he became known for transforming old-fashioned pieces into modern styles, endearing him to society ladies and international royalty. He founded his namesake brand in New York in 1932, thus beginning a jewelry empire that has spanned eight decades, from the runways of Paris to the red carpets of Hollywood and presidential inaugural balls. His jewels have graced the necks of royal beauties and starlets—including the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, the Empress of Iran, Jacqueline Kennedy, Elizabeth Taylor, Gwyneth Paltrow, Halle Berry, Catherine “Kate” Middleton and, of course, Marilyn Monroe, who famously cooed, “Talk to me Harry Winston. Tell me all about it!” as she performed “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” in the 1953 film, Gentleman Prefer Blondes.

Oh darling, does a Winston jewel talk! If Harry Winston’s life teaches us anything on this Valentine’s Day, it’s that a diamond speaks a language every woman can understand—no matter where she lives in the world.

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A Day for Diamonds: The Dazzling History of Harry Winston

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