“If I could, I would attach diamonds directly to a woman’s skin,” Harry Winston once said. The legendary jeweler nearly pulled off the feat when he created the Cluster, an innovative design that featured diamonds in delicate, virtually invisible settings that seemed to float on a woman’s body. Conjured in the 1940s and inspired by a snow-dusted Christmas wreath (only Winston could have seen sparkling diamonds in the winter foliage), it revolutionized jewelry and is still a signature of the house today.
“It was genius,” says Angelina Chen, Senior Specialist at Christie’s. “He created a lasting style with an added shine that complemented every woman, and that’s why it has stood the test of time.” He’s also the man who first loaned jewelry to an actress for the Oscars, which he did in 1944 with Jennifer Jones, which won the Oscar for Best Actress. It was definitely a publicity stunt, although Winston’s motives had nothing to do with celebrity support. He just believed his diamonds would shine brighter in the Hollywood spotlight.
Two decades later, in 1964, the King of Diamonds struck again, this time with over 200 carats of rubies and diamonds that he twisted into a necklace, using his ingenious Cluster setting to make the gems appear hover over the wearer’s collarbone. . The extravagant invention was particularly well suited to an era of social, cultural and generational excitement, a period marked by the meteoric rise of the Beatles, the equally marked rise in hemming, the beginning of the great love story of the jewelry between Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, and a roaring economy to thank for it all.
Luckily for the company that Winston founded in 1932 and ran until his death in 1978 at the age of 82, its current owner and CEO, Swiss billionaire Nayla Hayek, was not only committed to sourcing exceptional jewelry (Winston, you may remember, once owned the Hope Diamond), she also understands that the historic 89-year-old brand’s heritage is rooted in enduring designs first and foremost. “When we introduce new collections, we always stay true to the signature aesthetic of the house, while adding more contemporary touches that appeal to today’s clientele,” says Hayek.
This philosophy is evident in Harry Winston’s latest fine jewelry collection, which is anchored by a 2021 update to the 1964 Ruby and Diamond Twist motif. The changes are almost imperceptible, but the new pieces are unmistakably modern; with 48 carats of stones, this one-of-a-kind Endless Love necklace is lighter, more lace-up, a more aerodynamic touch. And a sparkling testimony to this secular maxim: The more it changes…
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