King of Diamonds: Harry Winston, the Definitive Biography of an American Icon by Ronald Winston, William Stadiem
This authoritative and intimate biography, written by his only living son, Ronald Winston, marries the Gilded Age glamour and romance of Edith Wharton with the ruthless family dynamics of HBO’s hit series, Succession.
Few American success stories rival that of Harry Winston. Born Harry Weinstein, he came from humble roots—his parents were poor Jewish immigrants who left Ukraine around 1890 for New York, where they settled and started a small jewelry business. His genius for spotting priceless gems emerged young. When Harry was twelve years old, he recognized a two-carat emerald in a pawn shop and bought it for 25 cents, selling it two days later for $800—a massive sum in the early 1900s. From that moment on, Harry became obsessed with gems, especially diamonds. A compact, unassuming man with no formal education, but unlimited drive and ambition, Harry Weinstein transformed himself into Harry Winston, the enigmatic figure who created the world’s most prestigious luxury brand.
Harry Winston built his empire while the Depression raged, World War II reshaped the world, and America entered its post-war period of prosperity. In this riveting biography, readers get a bird’s eye view of the dangers of the diamond trade and the lengths men would go to get their hands on the best of the “rough.” There’s also a glimpse into the lives of the rich and famous, who clamored for Winston’s gems. Although he traveled the world doing business with kings, queens, and movie stars, Winston remained a devoted family man, whose chief wish was that his sons carry on the legacy he had built.
Harry’s older son Ronald Winston worked alongside his father for decades. After Harry’s death, Ron grew the company into the international brand that is still revered today. He ran it expertly, until he was forced to sell the company, due to his younger brother’s maligning litigation. This is the story of a family business that survived and thrived for more than a century, until it was undone by one, bitter family member.
KING OF DIAMONDS is at once a portrait of American ingenuity at its best, and the story of sibling rivalry that is Shakespearean in its tragedy.
Year first published: 2023