Bonhams September sale in New York was built around the 61-lot collection of Katherine Domyan, a two-time gold medal winner for swimming in the 1952 Helsinki Olympic Games. Her jewels ranged from a menagerie of David Webb designs to two significant diamond necklaces by Harry Winston. Virtually every piece was made by a major jewelry company.
Each of the two Harry Winston necklaces shown on the catalog cover is dramatic and eye-catching on its own, but Ms. Domyan liked to wear them together. The necklaces, both made in 1984, are stellar examples of Harry Winston’s style: begin by amassing extremely fine diamonds, well matched in color, cut and shape, and then link them together with the barest minimum of platinum. Only the finest quality diamonds shine in such a simple, unadorned setting. The two necklaces differ mainly in the size of the individual diamonds and the total diamond weight. Lot #111 features three rows of graduating sizes of round diamonds, suspending a fringe of pear-shaped diamonds, further accented by marquise shaped diamonds, with a total diamond weight of 66.20 carats.
Ms. Domyan would wear this necklace nestled above lot #112, which features two rows of graduating round diamonds, suspending a fringe of pear-shaped diamond drops. The total weight of this necklace is 86.30 carats. Many of the pear shapes that comprise the lower level of the necklace would serve as impressive engagement ring center stones, with the largest diamond weighing in at 3.43 carats.
Harry Winston began his business in New York in 1932, in the depths of the Depression. He quickly made a name for himself as the purchaser of some of the largest, and most famous, diamonds then known. He initiated the era of lending jewelry to stars who wore them on the red carpet at awards shows, garnering tremendous audiences for his designs. He had a knack for making headlines, such as when he donated the blue Hope Diamond to the Smithsonian Institution in 1958, giving a major boost to its new gem collection and forever certifying his place as the “King of Diamonds” in the public imagination.