Two weeks ago I was in New York City, taking the GIA Diamond Grading Lab, shopping and enjoying the Big City in general. (Yes, I live in California. Yes, GIA’s Carlsbad campus is much closer than NYC. Long story.)
One evening I set out to visit as many high-end jewelry shops as possible (given that I was in class until 5 pm and most places closed between 6-7 pm.) My first stop was Harry Winston Fine Jewelry (they closed the soonest.) I also visited Cartier, DeBeers and Tiffany & Co, but my best memory from the entire nine-day adventure was my time spent at Harry Winston.
At the other stores, I was more or less ignored upon entering. I browsed around a little, but left each store feeling quite unwelcome. Not so with Harry Winston. The entrance was a bit imposing, and I admit, I had to muster up my courage to go in. I was greeted cheerfully, immediately, by a woman at the front desk. Her kindness gave me the nerve to explain that I was studying diamonds at GIA, and came there to see wonderful things, and would she mind if I looked around? Not at all, she assured me, “and be sure you don’t miss the fancy vivid pink diamond in the back, it’s worth nine million dollars!”
I didn’t need further motivation! After (internally) drooling my way around the room, I settled at the case in the middle, staring at what had to be a D Flawless step-cut diamond. I called over a salesman to ask about the carat weight, gave my “I’m a diamond student, please excuse my googly-eyes” explanation again, and to my delight he took me on a “tour” of everything notable in the room.
I saw my first Kashmir sapphire — the most desirable color, the blue other sapphires only dream of being. I saw an ideal-color “milk and honey” cat’s eye chrysoberyl. I saw a fabulous necklace of red spinels ($16M), several mind-blowing emeralds, the above-mentioned fancy vivid pink diamond, and other gems, all fantastic.
At one point, my tour guide and I stood in front of a 40-carat fancy vivid yellow radiant cut diamond set in a ring. (BIG. Fabulous.) I shook my head and asked him, “…how could you even lift your hand?” He paused, and replied, “well… you manage.” “True,” I said. “I’m not unwilling to try!” He laughed.
At the end, I asked for a business card (proof that I’d been there) and was given one, and a promotional book of HW jewelry. I was sent on my way with hearty well-wishes — “Good luck on your final tomorrow! You’ll do FINE!!” The whole thing was vastly encouraging, possibly the nicest retail experience I’ve ever had.
I will never forget you, Harry Winston — your staff is as impressive as your gems, and just as valuable. I walked into your store and was treated like a human being; I walked out feeling fantastic. Thank you for choosing to share your knowledge and enthusiasm, and lift up someone whom other stores chose to ignore.