“If I could, I would attach diamonds directly onto a woman’s skin,” Harry Winston once said. The legendary jeweler nearly accomplished the feat when he created the Cluster, an innovative design that featured diamonds in delicate, virtually invisible settings that appeared to float on a woman’s body. Conjured in the 1940s and inspired by a snow-dusted Christmas wreath (only Winston could have seen glistening diamonds in winter foliage), it revolutionized jewelry—and is still a house signature today.
“It was genius,” says Angelina Chen, a senior specialist at Christie’s. “He created a lasting style with extra brilliance that complemented every woman, and that’s why it has stood the test of time.” This was also the man who was the first to lend jewelry to an actress for the Academy Awards, which he did in 1944 with Jennifer Jones, who went on to win the Best Actress Oscar. It was a PR coup, no doubt, although Winston’s motives had nothing to do with a celebrity endorsement. He simply believed his diamonds would shine more brightly under Hollywood’s spotlights.
Two decades later, in 1964, the King of Diamonds struck again, this time with more than 200 carats’ worth of rubies and diamonds that he twisted into a necklace, employing his clever Cluster setting so the gems seemed to be hovering 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 similarly sharp ascent of hemlines, the beginning of the great jewelry love story 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 steered until his death in 1978, at age 82—its current owner and CEO, Swiss billionaire Nayla Hayek, is not only committed to procuring exceptional jewels (Winston, you might remember, was once the owner of the Hope Diamond), she also understands that the 89-year-old heritage brand’s legacy is, above all, rooted in enduring designs. “When we introduce new collections, we always stay true to the signature aesthetic of the house, while also adding more contemporary touches that appeal to today’s clientele,” Hayek says.
That ethos is apparent in Harry Winston’s latest high jewelry collection, which is anchored by a 2021 update on the 1964 ruby and diamond Twist motif. The changes are nearly imperceptible, but the new pieces are unmistakably modern; with 48 carats of stones, this one-of-a-kind Endless Love necklace is lighter, lacier, a touch more aerodynamic. And a glittering testament to that age-old maxim: Plus ça change…
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