Few things will make a man as uncomfortable as hearing his girlfriend tell him that she’s going to Harry Winston for a lunch where she’ll be designing her dream engagement ring, but that’s just what my boyfriend had the pleasure of hearing on a recent morning. The process began at the Harry Winston Fifth Avenue flagship where I met with one of the store’s specialists and was presented with a variety of diamonds and settings. Along the way I learned that Harry Winston has one of the narrowest selection of luxury stones because of how discerning they are. Cut and clarity are the number one concerns when they’re acquiring a new stone, but whereas some of the other well-known luxury jewelry houses lining Fifth Avenue will take ones with fluorescence (diamond whose color changes when exposed to ultraviolet radiation), Winston rarely does.
Further, they only carry "colorless" D, E, and F grade diamonds. The ring I ended up picking as my "dream" was an F grade 5.75 carat classic cushion cut diamond with a tapered baguette setting. The more exciting part of the afternoon (because, well, at the end of the day I didn't get to actually keep the diamond ring!) was lunch in Harry Winston's personal office. Winston died in 1978, but his office is kept true to its original look. Here are some other fun tidbits I picked up.
A framed photograph of Harry Winston
- While photography is allowed at Harry Winston, a few things — like the hidden safes in Winston's office — are off limits.
- There are very few photographs of Harry Winston because his insurance company did not allow him to be photographed.
- Harry Winston's personal elevator is tiny. Three people barely fit in at once; this might be because Winston, just 5'4, was on the small side.
- Harry Winston was born with an innate sense for the value of stones. When he was just 12 years old, recognizing it as an emerald, he bought a two-carat stone for $.25 in a pawn shop and just a few days later he sold it for $800.
- After owning it for a decade, Harry Winston donated the Hope Diamond to the Smithsonian Institution in 1958 because he wanted everyone to be able to appreciate its splendor.
- It takes about two years for the luxury jewler to come out with a new jewelry collection.
- No two cushion cut diamonds are alike making it a very difficult task to create cushion cut earrings.
- When shopping for diamonds and deciding between two sizes, always opt for the larger one — even if it appears big now, I was told, it will get smaller as the years go by. Somehow I don't doubt the truth in that…
- It's common for women, like myself, who are not yet engaged to feel like it's bad luck to try on an engagement ring before they are actually engaged.
- Winston boutiques have an internal virtual vault uploaded to iPads so that clients can see Winston's collection of jewlery from all over the world (there isn't the same stock in each of Winston's 20 boutiques).
- Oval-shaped stones tend to make fingers appear longer and leaner.
- Harry Winston is a Gossip Girl favorite. The rings that Chuck and Louie gave Blair were both from Harry Winston and, according to Winston's communication director, around the same price.
- The ring Aidan gave Carrie in Sex and the City was a three carat ring from Winston.
- Winston's staffers maintain that they never get returns on engagement rings, even when the husband-to-be is picking the ring without the woman's input. They attribute this to female's natural tendancy to drop hints as to what they like.
- Harry Winston is not yet on Twitter, but is working on it. They want to make sure they have enough steady, interesting content before launching an account.
- When visting Canada, Kate Middleton was given a 4.5 carat platinum and pave diamond brooch in the shape of the official polar bear logo of Canada's Northwest Territories. The regional government asked Harry Winston to create this one-of-a-kind piece and as one of the two people who flew to Canada for the occasion, Harry Winston's public relations director revealed that the royal couple is everything you'd expect and more — very tall, impeccably mannered, and when they speak to you they "make you feel like there's no one else in the room."
For those curious as to what Harry Winston serves when inviting six bloggers for lunch, it includes a goat cheese tart, olive oil poached halibut, and marzipan cake, after which each of us were exclusively given a copy of this specially created, new behind-the-scenes Bridal video, “Create the Moment.”