Harry Winston’s Sparkling Whimsey

Court of Jewels 1949-1953

It should come as little surprise that Harry Winston, widely recognized as the “King of Diamonds” and “Jeweler to the Stars,” had an eye for stones even from an early age. The story has it that a 12-year-old Winston happened to spot a genuine two-carat emerald among a pile of junk jewelry at a local pawnshop. Knowing what he had found, Winston purchased for 25 cents what the shop owner believed was a worthless piece of costume jewelry; two days later, he went on to sell it for $800.

As the son of a small jewelry shop owner, Winston was introduced to jewelry from a very early age. Still, he always demonstrated a natural eye and strong intuition for evaluating the quality and potential of gemstones. By the age of 15, he would go to work for his father’s small Los Angeles jewelry shop and, by 1920, would move back to New York City to open his first business, the Premier Diamond Company. Winston’s remarkable eye for diamonds and sixth sense for understanding how to unlock their potential helped him launch in 1932 his eponymous brand, with its tony travertine townhouse flagship that remains to this day at 718 Fifth Avenue, on the corner of 56th Street.

Winston made a name for himself early on by purchasing entire jewelry collections from the most prominent estate sales of the day and by removing the gemstones from their dated settings in order to re-cut and set them into more contemporary settings. This unconventional purchasing practice launched him into the spotlight, but it was that natural prowess demonstrated by the 12-year-old emerald-spotting child that carried his craft to new heights of fine-jewelry design—and a new standard in the industry. Another story in the house’s lore has it that the hallmark Winston design was born during a snowy December night in the 1940s. Winston, inspired by the way the fresh winter’s snow glistened on a decorative holly wreath hanging on the door of his Scarsdale residence, realized the similarities between the beauty of nature and diamonds. In the same way the intertwining leaves—not the branches—created the sculptured shape of the wreath, Winston decided that diamonds, rather than their settings, should dictate the design of his jewels.

This inspiration led Winston to his now famous “clustering” technique, a method by which diamonds of different cuts and sizes are grouped together and set in delicate platinum, transforming them into three-dimensional sculptures. Today, the Winston Cluster is one of the house’s most coveted motifs, and has been incorporated into the designs of so many famous pieces and entire collections themselves—from the breathtaking Wreath necklace to the Harry Winston Lily Cluster, Lotus Cluster, and Secret Cluster collections.

This month, the diamond-driven “cluster” style is being given new life once again in the form of the freshly minted Sparkling Cluster collection—a stunning new collection that is meant to memorialize Mr. Winston’s enduring commitment to making brilliant celebrations shine even brighter with magnificent diamonds. Winston first shared his extraordinary jewels with society’s great charitable galas in 1947, and his brilliant jewels have continued to shine at the most highly anticipated social events ever since. From a black-tie affair to the red carpet, from an engagement to a wedding, from an anniversary to a personal milestone, for more than 80 years the house’s superlative designs have served as glittering expressions of life’s most cherished memories. And now, with Sparkling Cluster by Harry Winston, the house is honoring its treasured legacy through a new series of jewels that have been designed to go hand in hand with the most special of occasions. In the Sparkling Cluster collection, round brilliant and pear-shaped diamonds have been set in light, fluid patterns, making them look as if they “float” against the wearer. It’s a stunning whimsy that could only come from the house of Harry Winston.