As the son of Ukrainian immigrants, Harry Winston was a smart gem-hunter since his early childhood. As legend has it, at just 12 years old, he recognized a two-carat emerald in a New York pawnshop, bought it for 25 cents, and sold it two days later for $800. In 1932, he opened his own store, and focused on buying gems to re-cut, re-set and re-sell. And when Winston used beautiful actress Jennifer Jones as his canvas to showcase his diamonds at the Oscars over half a century ago, his jewelry company has since been synonymous with glamour and fame.
Although he is no longer alive, his family has continued to carry on his legacy with ties to some of the world’s most famous jewels-most notably, the Hope Diamond. Purchased in 1949 from the estate of socialite Evalyn Walsh McLean, the Hope Diamond was highlighted in his “Court of Jewels,” after being re-cut to increase its brilliance, and shown to audiences across the country. Winston donated the stone to the Smithsonian in 1958.