Fashion / Shopping

Houston’s Most Elegant House?

This Enclave’s Shrouded in Secrecy and Rare Jewels

BY // 09.07.16

One of the most elegant houses in Houston has just been built. Majestic bronze doors encase the striking marble entryway; an Italian chandelier bathes the antique furniture and hand-beaded silk walls in a soft glow. The inhabitants boast a glorious and privileged past — one shrouded in secrecy, intrigue, and, of course, a little bit of scandal.

This is the House of Harry Winston. And its residents are some of the most laudable gemstones to ever exist.

Winston himself once remarked, “Jewels are more than my love and my life; they are an insatiable obsession.” This obsession led him to the farthest corners of the Earth in search of his beloved, where he mediated hushed transactions with aristocratic patrons the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, the Shah of Iran, Stavros Niarchos, and Aristotle Onassis, as well as Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor.

Winston loved diamonds so much that he reputedly kept several priceless stones in his pocket to caress throughout the day. “Always buy the stones, never the mounts,” he advised.

It’s been said that Winston owned more of the world’s famous stones than any other individual, government, or royal house. The 726-carat Jonker diamond was one of the largest ever discovered, but more shocking than its size was what the enigmatic Winston did with the stone after he won it at auction: He sent it regular registered mail for 64 cents. The 45.52-carat blue Hope Diamond was once owned by Louis XIV, and according to Winston’s son, it was his proudest purchase. Stolen from the French State Treasury in 1792, it somehow made its way to England, where it was recut and sold to banker Henry Hope.

Begun in Manhattan in 1932, the House of Harry Winston has 39 salons worldwide; the newly opened Houston store is the largest yet. Winston treasures once belonging to some of the biggest private estates can be seen dripping off the world’s most public personages. For eight decades, celebrities have flocked to the house — Katy Perry, Jennifer Lopez, and Charlize Theron were the anointed few on red carpets this year — with many of these jewels currently on view in the Houston store.

Holiday Gifting

  • Mariquite Masterson
  • Cotton Club
  • Bond No 9 - Perfume
  • Cle Du Peau - Lip Gloss
  • Mariquite Masterson
  • Elaine Turner - GiGi Flats
  • Elaine Turner - Felicia Stole in Magenta
  • Cle Du Peau - Nail Polish
  • Wayne Smith
  • Bond No 9 - Candle
  • Loeffler Randall - Clutch
  • Loeffler Randall - Shoes
  • Oscar De La Renta - Earrings
  • Cotton Club
  • Oscar De La Renta - Clutch
  • Museum of Fine Arts Houston
  • Wayne Smith
  • Asher Gallery

But Harry Winston isn’t solely focused on big gems. The house has broadened its focus of late to include more bridal options and a renewed concentration on timepieces. It will also launch a collection this holiday season to compete in a more accessible arena, with prices starting at $6,000 — a relatively small price to pay for such a big piece of haute joaillerie history.

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