King of Diamonds
In 1947, "Cosmopolitan" magazine bestowed Harry Winston with a moniker that would follow him throughout his career: "King of Diamonds." An innate gemologist with an intuitive mastery of his trade, Mr. Winston traveled the globe in his quest to find the world’s finest diamonds and gemstones for his vast portfolio of discerning clientele.
Long before Mr. Winston was crowned the “King of Diamonds,” he made headlines as one of the industry’s preeminent brokers of important estates and extraordinary diamonds. His first company, the Premier Diamond Company, was founded in 1920 and it was during this time that he began acquiring the estates of prominent American socialites. Among the first was the estate of Rebecca Darlington Stoddard in 1925, followed one year later by the collection of Arabella Huntington, the widow of a railroad tycoon. Mr. Winston’s devoted clientele included notable families, royalty, and titans of the industry, and through these connections he gained unprecedented access to the world’s most important diamonds and gemstones.
Some of the world’s most famous gemstone collectors, including the Maharajah of Indore and the Duchess of Windsor, were among the notables who flocked to Mr. Winston for his expertise concerning the very rarest and most exceptional jewels on the market.
In 1934, after a heavy rain, a 726 carat rough was discovered in South Africa. Named the Jonker, in honor of the miner who discovered it, the diamond made international headlines and quickly caught the attention of Mr. Winston. The following year, the Jonker made headlines once again, when Mr. Winston outbid his competition to acquire the rough. Mr. Winston was so proud with his latest acquisition that upon arrival in the United States, the Jonker was sent on a press tour, including a highly publicized photo shoot with actress Shirley Temple.
Cutting the World's Biggest Diamond
In 1938, Mr. Winston bested his competitors yet again. After reading a small newspaper article about the discovery of a 726.60 carat rough diamond in the San Antonio River in Brazil, Mr. Winston immediately set off on a cross-continent journey to track down the impressive stone. Traveling first by plane to Brazil, then by boat to Antwerp, Mr. Winston examined and purchased the exceptional piece of rough, named the Vargas, before it was officially offered to any other jeweler.
In 1953, Mr. Winston acquired a 155 carat rough that had been discovered in South Africa the previous year. Under the direction of Mr. Winston, the stone was cut to a flawless D-color pear-shaped weighing an impressive 62.05 carats. Mr. Winston loved this diamond so much that he named it after himself. The Winston Diamond, as it was now known, was sold to a client in the Middle East in 1959. A diamond that beautiful was destined to cross paths with the "King of Diamonds" once again, and years later Mr. Winston and his namesake stone were reunited. The diamond was recut to 61.80 carats and when matched with another diamond of comparable size, Mr. Winston sold them as a pair of earrings to a prominent collector in Canada.
- Mr. Harry Winston
The Star of Independence
The 75.52 carat, D-flawless diamond was cut by Harry Winston, from a 204 carat piece of rough in 1976. Rumored to have been carried in his pocket—just for the pleasure of having such a perfect stone near to him—Mr. Winston named the pristine diamond the Star of Independence, in celebration of the American Bicentennial.
With a deep appreciation for his American roots, Mr. Winston acquired a 342 carat piece of rough, which yielded two pear-shaped diamonds. Cut by Harry Winston in 1976 – the year of the American Bicentennial – the larger of the two, an 89.23 carat diamond, was named after the first American president, George Washington.
The Winston Legacy
Known throughout the industry and across the globe as the “King of Diamonds,” Mr. Winston built his legacy as the purveyor of the world’s most exceptional jewels. The story of the House of Harry Winston is best told through its incredible portfolio of diamonds, which continues today. In 2013, Harry Winston acquired an extraordinary 101.73 carat flawless D-color pear-shaped diamond named The Winston Legacy. Underscoring Mr. Winston’s legacy and incredible passion for precious stones, the House remains committed to a tradition of creativity, rarity, and quality without compromise in its retail salons around the world.