The T&C Jewelry Grand Tour: America’s Crown Jewels
Town and Country Magazine
Town & Country’s Leena Kim takes us back to a time when Harry Winston, the man, was still alive, and in love with the gems and jewelry that allowed people to wear them. As HW jewelry designer Maurice Gali once told us, “Mr. Winston didn’t want the gold or platinum to show. He would have preferred, if he could, to simply glue the gems to the client.” Now that is someone who loved gems.
Here is what Kim has for us, from Town & Country Magazine. The Link to Town & Country for more of their jewelry related features is below.
A strict insurance policy forbade Harry Winston from showing his face in public. No matter; his work said it all. Royals, movie stars, and wives of tycoons flocked to the King of Diamonds for his extravagant flair—and his treasure trove. Thanks to an eye for the good stuff— legend has it that the 12-year-old Winston recognized a two-carat emerald in a pawn shop junk bin, bought it for 25 cents, and sold it for $800—he acquired some of the rarest rocks in history.
There were rough stones, like the one he cut into what would become the famous Taylor-Burton Diamond, and the 601-carat Lesotho, which spawned Ari’s engagement ring for Jackie. Also in the inventory: the Star of the East, the Briolette of India, and, of course, the Hope Diamond, which Winston donated to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, laying the groundwork for what is now a 10,000-piece gem and mineral collection. “At the time he said, ‘We don’t have a king or queen, but we should have crown jewels,’ ” says the collection’s curator, Jeffrey Post. “He truly had a passion for diamonds—and for sharing them with the public.”
By 1952 Winston had the world’s second- largest collection of historic jewels, after the British royal family. From 1949 to 1953 he took them on the road, showing them off in a traveling U.S. exhibition known as the “Court of Jewels.” Among them was a 337.10-carat sapphire that belonged to Catherine the Great that has now been reimagined for the maison’s latest high jewelry collection, along with other regal hits from the archives, from the Maharaja of Indore’s emerald necklace to Liz Taylor’s conch pearls. So what is the price of anonymity? “People will stare,” the jeweler once said. “Make it worth their while.”
Above: Catherine the Great’s sapphire inspired this piece, from Harry Winston’s latest collection. Harry Winston The Countess Necklace from the Royal Adornments Collection, featuring blue sapphires and diamonds set in platinum.