GENEVA - “Talk to me Harry Winston! Tell me all about it”, a breathy Marilyn Monroe exclaimed in the 1953 movie Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. By this time Harry Winston was already known as ‘The King of Diamonds’, and five years later he would donate the Hope Diamond to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., helping to establish the museum’s National Gem Collection.
A MAGNIFICENT EMERALD AND DIAMOND NECKLACE, HARRY WINSTON, 1959. ESTIMATE CHF1,950,000–3,890,000.
Harry Winston began working for his father’s jewellery business as a boy and it is rumoured that at the age of twelve he spotted a two-carat emerald in a pawn shop, paid 25 cents for it, and sold it two days later for $800. But it was after the acquisition of Arabella Huntington’s famous jewellery collection that Winston’s empire took off. One of the world’s most prestigious collections of jewellery, many of the designs were outdated by the time of her death and Winston set about redesigning the jewellery in his own contemporary settings.
During the 1940s Winston pioneered the innovative technique of clustering, in which the design of the piece was dictated by the diamonds rather than the settings. His fine hand-made prong settings soon became his trademark. The first jeweller to lend diamonds to an actress for the Academy Awards he soon also became known as the “Jeweller to the Stars.”
In this photograph from 1963, Dolores Sherwood Bosshard wears the dazzling diamond and emerald necklace while attending the Red Cross Ball in Monte Carlo. A study in elegance, these jewels are the embodiment of a time when glamour and luxury were paramount.
Composed of step-cut emeralds framed with brilliant-cut diamonds, the central hexagonal emerald is stated to weigh 22.25 carats, and the detachable pendant is set with a pear-shaped emerald stated to weigh 15.97 carats, also surrounded with brilliant-cut diamonds.
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