From the Vault
Harry Winston set the standard for luxury by always thinking big
Extravagant jewels were the ultimate expression of luxury in the early
20th century. They symbolized a prosperous and easy lifestyle. A woman wearing
a profusion of fine gems set in platinum and gold was identified immediately
as a member of high society.
This perception changed dramatically with the outbreak of World War II.
Luxury disappeared in the wake of wartime privations. Platinum was conscripted
for the war effort; fine gems were difficult if not impossible to obtain.
Jewelry made during the 1940s was typically made of lightweight gold sculpted
for a large look. If gems were used, they were small, sometimes synthetic
or large, less-expensive natural ones such as citrine or moonstone.
When the war ended, optimism boomed along with the economy. The 1950s
ushered in a general feeling of prosperity and with it came a return of
opulence and luxury. Gold jewelry remained in fashion for daywear, but fine
gems and platinum made a comeback for evening. In this climate of growth
and expansion, jewelry made by Harry Winston most closely captured the spirit
of the time.
Winston established his reputation as an exceptional gem dealer by his phenomenal
ability to judge gem quality and his resolve to "always think big."
Able to see what others couldn't in the estate jewels being liquidated in
the '30s and '40s, he recut and reset these gems in contemporary styles
with a broader appeal for the 1950s client.
The ornate styles of previous decades didn't suit Winston's aesthetic;
he wanted to make jewelry where the gems rather than the metal were the
focus. Inspiration came in the form of a holly wreath at Christmas the
leaves defined the shape of the wreath while the structure of branches was
Why couldn't gems be set the same way? Winston devised flexible wire
settings of platinum and gold as the underlying structure for his subtle
arrangements of gems. The independent prong settings were linked underneath
so only the prong tips showed, allowing the gems to make the statement.
Highest Quality Gems
Many Winston designs feature diamonds in herringbone patterns or subtle
suggestions of leaves and berries in necklaces and bracelets. His signature
earrings are clusters of fancy-shaped diamonds that resemble icicles or
flames. The diamonds are always beautifully cut stones of high color and
clarity. When color is integrated, the gems are always of exceptional quality.
As a fine painting is given an important frame, Winston set colored gems
in a border of diamonds, underscoring their significance.
they were introduced in the 1950s, Harry Winston's inventive designs were
widely imitated, demonstrating the magnitude of their impact. His work has
proved itself timeless; jewelry designed in the 1950s is just as wearable
today as it was then. In essence, jewels by Harry Winston are the ultimate
definition of luxury; their silent scintillation says it all.
A simple row of graduated pear-shaped diamonds makes an
elegant necklace from which to suspend a magnificent pear-shaped diamond
pendant. Cluster earrings and ring also feature pear-shaped diamonds. Photo
and jewelry courtesy of Harry Winston.
by Elise B. Misiorowski
Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.