Harry Winston was often referred to as the King of Diamonds thanks to his knack for acquiring some of the rarest stones ever discovered, from the 726-carat Jonker to Evalyn Walsh McLean’s 94.8-carat Star of the East. It’s a reputation that has carried on well past the jewelry magnate’s lifetime, with more recent brand acquisitions including the 101.73-carat flawless, colorless Winston Legacy obtained in 2013 and the vivid 18.96-carat Winston Legacy Pink in 2018. The latest jewel to take the spotlight at the maison’s court: the Winston Sapphire Legacy, a 43.1-carat Kashmir sapphire set in platinum and dangling from a necklace set with a total of 67.5 carats of round-brilliant, square-emerald, pear and marquise diamonds.
Sapphires of this size are exceptionally rare—those of the Kashmir variety even more so. According to Benoît Repellin, Phillips’s worldwide head of jewelry, the stones were originally discovered following a landslide in the Himalayan mountains of Kashmir in the early 1880s and first traded by locals for salt and other consumer goods; after merchants recognized their value, the Maharaja sent troops to protect and control the mines. And though the operation to exhume the gems was exhausted by the end of that century, the project yielded some of the finest sapphires on earth.
“For connoisseurs and collectors, the most special characteristic of Kashmir sapphires, what elevates them above all other gems, is their unique combination of a rich, intense blue with a soft and velvety appearance,” Repellin says. “Finding a large crystal from these mines is a true discovery, and the combination of the velvety-blue color, good clarity, large size and important weight make a Kashmir sapphire a wonder of nature.” And, of course, a wonder for collectors—especially in such a once-in-a-lifetime piece.