Friday, October 14, 2011

Harry Winston, China and Diamonds...Discuss

1960 photo of Harry and his jewelry box.
Harry Winston, the venerable jewelry house to celebrities and the wealthy, sees solid opportunities in China. Realizing that's where new and young (emphasis on young...they will be around longer to buy) wealth is located, Winston has concentrated its efforts and plans to open at least 10 new stores in the next 5 years. The firm is looking at Russia and Dubai as well, but China is really its target market.

Chief Executive, Frederic de Narp said, "nothing is too big, nothing is too beautiful, and nothing is too expensive for the Chinese today. They are on a quest for true luxury." Meanwhile, according to de Narp, luxury is "rebounding sharply" in the lowly United States.

Harry Winston, Inc. expects sales growth of 15% in new markets in the next five years.

In 1958 Winston donated the Hope Diamond to the Smithsonian as a "gift to the American people." The famous blue diamond was set by Cartier in 1910.  In November of 2010, the Hope Diamond was temporarily remounted in a somewhat contemporary setting (see below) meant to commemorate 50 years on display at the Natural History Museum.  The new setting is called "Embracing Hope" and was chosen from three potential designs. Shortly, the Hope Diamond will return to its original Cartier setting (see above), a circle of 16 white diamonds attached to a diamond necklace.
This new setting for the Hope Diamond, called "Embracing Hope," was chosen from three potential designs and is on display for a little while longer at the Smithsonian Institution. Harry Winston, Inc. will then send it on a world tour, replacing the Hope with another blue stone at its center.  The plan is to then offer it for sale and donate the proceeds back to the Smithsonian.  

Founded in 1932, Harry Winston became immortalized in 1953 when Marilyn Monroe called out his  name in the "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" song she sang in the movie, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Winston's legacy was further celebrated in 1958 when he donated the Hope Diamond to the Smithsonian Institution. Actually, at the time, Winston had no prospective buyers for the ill-fated stone, believed to put some serious maloik on the owner.

In this photo, Harry Winston holds some of his famous gems in the palm of his hand. The 125.35 carat emerald cut "Jonker" diamond is center. Just under the Jonker is the 94.80 carat pear shaped Star of the East diamond. The 45.52 carat blue Hope diamond rests between his index and middle finger. The 337.10 carat Sapphire of Catherine the Great is next to his thumb, and the 70.21 carat Idol's Eye diamond is just above the Jonker. A matched pair of pear shaped diamonds and a larger ruby are also shown.
"The Lesotho" – The original rough diamond – over 601-carats uncut – was unearthed in 1967 by a woman in the South African kingdom of Lesotho. Fearing for her life, the woman fled on foot for four days and nights to sell the incredible stone under government protection. Purchased by Harry Winston, the cleaving of the Lesotho was broadcast live on television in 1968, resulting in 18 separate gems. The largest, "Lesotho One," is an exquisite 71.73-carat flawless emerald cut diamond. Aristotle Onassis purchased the 40.42-carat "Lesotho Three" for Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ engagement ring.

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