America is home to many a fine jeweller; however, we have our favourites: Harry Winston and Tiffany’s. Both jewellers not only crafted exquisite jewellery from the minute they opened their doors, but they also managed to retain their popularity well into the 21st-century, with both brands still very much a firm favourite with jewellery enthusiasts and luxury fashion aficionados around the world.
Below, find out more about both popular American jewellers.
Founded in 1932, Harry Winston is an American jeweller and maker of premium Swiss watches.
Harry Winston, an American jeweller, founded his renowned brand in 1931 when he opened his first shop in New York; however, his collection began before that when, in 1926, Winston purchased Arabella Huntington’s entire jewellery collection for $1.2 million, which included jewels from already established brands such as Cartier. To prove his skills, Winston restyled Huntingdon’s old-fashioned jewellery to create contemporary items which then became some of the first jewellery he sold. Thanks to Harry Winston, Huntingdon’s pearls are now thought to be worn by dozens of women around the world in the form of new, updated jewellery. Also, Harry Winston quickly became a favourite amongst Hollywood celebrities as he made history as the first jeweller to loan diamonds to an actress for the Academy Awards after, in 1943, he loaned diamonds to Best Actress nominee Jennifer Jones.
Throughout his lifetime, Winston collected an array of exquisite diamonds such as the Blue Heart, the Crown of Charlemagne, the Graff Pink, and the Napoleon Diamond Necklace, as well as numerous collections of diamonds including the Anastasia, the Arcots, and the Indore Pears. In total, Winston owned more than 30 intricately cut, high-carat diamonds worth millions of pounds both individually and even more so as a collection, including the Hope Diamond which he donated to the Smithsonian Institution in 1958 and the Portuguese Diamond, which he traded to the Smithsonian in 1963.
In 1978, Harry Winston passed away, leaving his empire to his two sons, Ronald and Bruce Winston. The pair fought about who would have control, however, in 2000, Ronald bought Bruce out and formed a partnership with Fenway Partners. In 2013, the Swatch Group acquired the brand. The Swatch Group is a Swiss watchmaker that also owns the likes of Omega and Balmain’s watch divisions.
With such incredible success, it would have been difficult for Harry Winston to have gone unnoticed by the media, especially after the brand had built a repertoire with some of Hollywood’s best and brightest stars, and he didn’t. In the 1953 musical Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, the song Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend includes dialogue that sounds, “Talk to me, Harry Winston, tell me all about it!”. Also, in 2008, a comic titled Chasing Harry Winston was published. As if it wasn’t already, both popular culture references help cement Harry Winston a place in both world jewellery and cultural history.
In part, thanks to Hollywood icon Audrey Hepburn’s performance in 1961 film favourite Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Tiffany & Co is, perhaps, one of the world’s most recognisable and shopped jewellers.
The brand is known for fine jewellery and has more than 300 stores worldwide.
When it first opened its doors in 1837, Tiffany’s, official title Tiffany & Co, was labelled a “stationary and fancy goods emporium” selling much more than just jewellery, even though it’s diamond jewellery was and still is its most regarded product. Other products on offer include sterling silver homewares, china, crystal vases, crockery, stationery, watches, and accessories such as leather goods and scarves.
At the time, Tiffany’s was a pioneer in how it advertised its products in-store as, unlike other stores, all goods had a visible price tag which meant customers didn’t have to ask staff for prices, which was incredibly unusual for such a retailer at the time. Also, at the same time, Tiffany’s implemented a cash-only payment system which meant customers couldn’t pay in instalments, which was again unusual. It was also one of the first brands in the world to offer a mail order catalogue, which continues today.
Today, Tiffany’s has a store in almost every major city around the world and is best known for its engagement rings, charm bracelets, and watches. Despite being best known for diamonds, in addition to its high-jewellery collection, Tiffany’s offers an extensive selection of mid-range jewellery that features sterling silver, gold, and rose gold. The brand is a go-to for Birthday and Christmas presents.
Tiffany’s flagship store on Fifth Avenue in New York has been a long-time hot spot of filmmakers. It is best known for featuring in the world-famous Audrey Hepburn flick Breakfast at Tiffany’s, in which Hepburn’s captivating, quirky and mysterious Holly Golightly and Paul Varjak, played by George Peppard, sway eloquently around the store. The infamous Tiffany’s store also features in Sweet Home Alabama, starring Reese Witherspoon. Both media references have added to the brand’s success.
What makes both Harry Winston and Tiffany’s particularly special? Amongst other things, both brands contributed extensively to jewellery history, not only through building large jewellery empires but also through fronting developments in jewellery. For instance, yes, Tiffany’s was at the forefront of retail innovation in the 19th-century; however, it was also one of the first brands to incorporate coloured gemstones in its jewellery, which led to the popularisation of stones such as tsavorite, kunzite, and morganite. Tiffany’s gemologist, George Frederick Kunz, was also essential to the adoption of the carat as the international weight standard for gems, which you’ll now find as standard in every jeweller.
It was Harry Winston that built an extensive collection of diamonds and donated diamonds to museums such as the Smithsonian, which means future generations are now able to observe such gems as part of history, securing America’s jewellery industry a place in America’s cultural heritage.
No matter what, explore Tiffany’s and Harry Winston as your go-to American jewellers.