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By Sedef Kokcuoglu

When other children my age begged their grandmothers to tell them fairytales of handsome princes saving damsels in distress, I repeatedly asked mine to show me her jewelry collection, which she kept stashed away in elusive hiding spots. Her most prized piece was a diamond broche by Harry Winston that sparkled like the northern star on a clear night and with this piece began my fascination with the exquisite and beautiful gemstones of the Winston House. To this day I vividly recall how she would let me only look and not that touch that heavenly thing and how I yearned to hold it in the palm of my hand. Years later when entering Harry Winston’s Fifth Avenue location to interview Vice President Richard Winston, I experienced the same anticipation that used to leave me breathless on those special days with my grandmother and her treasures.

As I was being escorted into the brilliantly decorated magnificent main room of the store, I caught a glimpse of Mr. Winston, who sat in his usual spot, leaning over his work, and realized once more how closely he resembled the classic New York gentleman I was used to seeing in old black and white movies. I have met jewelers all over the world and bought exquisite pieces from many, but my interactions with them have always remained strictly within the confines of business transactions. In Harry Winston, however, this impeccably dressed, pleasant man has always made me feel as if I was an acquaintance having a pleasant conversation with him; not over tea, but rather over diamonds, emeralds and rubies.

Harry Winston, also known as the “ultimate jeweler,” has created some of the most exceptional pieces of jewelry adorned with some of the most fabulous gemstones ever discovered. The Jonker, the Niarchos, the Taylor Burton, the Winston, the Star of Independence, the Star of Sierre Leone, the Idol’s Eye, the Arcots, the Nepal, the Briolette and the Indore Pear Shapes are some of the many magnificent diamonds that have been in the company’s possession.

As Richard Winston confidently proclaims Winston jewels “start on good and go to the best.” Indeed, placed next to even the most exclusive pieces created by other jewelers, the trained eye can identify a Winston almost immediately, for their jewels are set apart by their immaculate gemstone quality, unmatched craftsmanship, and unique designs. In fact, the House of Winston “cuts the stones, creates the designs of its jewelry and markets all its products all under one roof, while most other jewelers job their projects out or buy their designs.”

Harry Winston once said, “No two diamonds are alike. Each diamond has a different nature. Each diamond has different problems. Each diamond must be handled as you handle a person.” Thus, each Winston creation begins with the selection and cutting of the potentially perfect stone, acquired from the most distinguished providers from all over the world. Then top quality designers come up with elegant, graceful, original and fluid designs, which will preserve the individuality of each stone. (Harry Winston himself was the one to begin this trend by creating the “light prong setting” at a time when jewelry settings used to be “heavy”.) Finally, in the skilled hands of craftsmen, which honor centuries old traditions the one-of-a-kind designs and gems cut to perfection are combined to create finished pieces, which dazzle the eye of the beholder.

Given that Harry Winston deals with jewels of exceptional quality and beauty as well as unbelievable value, one should not be surprised to find out that royalty and celebrities of past and present have been the traditional customers of the company. Richard Winston himself has numerous fond memories of having done business with many intelligent, wealthy and tasteful people. In his opinion “buying jewelry requires more than just money. People need to have taste. You have to have the taste to know what is right for you.”

Change has impacted not only the diversity of Winston products, but also the way in which they are advertised. I am sure not one of our readers has recently skimmed through the pages of Vogue or Bazaar without coming across a beautiful image of Carolyn Murphy adorned with brilliant Winston diamonds across her head, taking one’s imagination back to the heyday of Grace Kelly. According to Mr. Winston this new marketing tactic has been immensely successful. He says that clients come into the store bearing torn-out advertisements featuring the top model and demand to purchase the pieces she is wearing.

By the end of my meeting with Mr. Winston it was clear to me, that I as an avid fan and loyal customer of the Winston House could still expect the company to continue to produce timeless jewelry of infinite beauty, such as my grandmother’s broche. And I have no doubt that Harry Winston, best known for its innovative approach to the jewelry business, will continue to evolve and grow, even as it expands and changes in ways that not even its founder could not have imagined.

The magic of Winston is very much a reality. This Christmas I wish the brilliance of Harry for all Fashionlines women. May your 2005 be as luminous, dazzling, and bright as a flawless diamond.



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