So, you have found the perfect person that you want to spend the rest of your life with and want to propose in the most romantic way possible. But everyone knows that one of the most important elements of a great proposal is a breathtaking ring.
And you don’t want just any ring. Perhaps you are looking for one with a history and with a name that is well known throughout the world. Since building up his reputation in the 1940s, Harry Winston engagement rings became highly desirable in the world of exclusive jewelry
Many famous people such as Jennifer Lopez and Halle Berry had donned Harry Winston pieces and helped elevate the brand’s appeal in recent years. In this review, I’m going to share my personal shopping experience and insights into their diamond engagement rings.
Let’s jump right in…
Here is a list of topics we will be covering:
Born at the turn of the century in 1896, Harry Winston spent most of his time under the tutelage of his father, who was a jeweler before him. Harry was not only a dedicated and hard-working child, but one who understood the value of a dollar and used his resourcefulness to forge ahead in the diamond world.
By the tender age of twelve, Harry Winston already had an indepth knowledge of gemstones and a knack for being a great businessman. The story goes that he found a genuine emerald on sale for a quarter. He purchased it and made a profit of $800 when he flipped the stone to someone else within 24 hours!
In 1932, Harry Winston started his company in New York City and built his reputation for being an innate gemologist with superb business acumen. He went on to revolutionize fine jewelry designs and acquired some of the world’s most famous diamonds like the Jonker and Hope diamond.
He had numerous defining moments in his career and one of them was correctly identifying the business potential of the 601 carats Lesotho diamond. This massive diamond was purchased and subsequently recut into 18 smaller ones that sold amazingly well.
Throughout his career, Harry Winston amassed a huge collection of famous diamonds and worked with many well-known celebrities. As a result, he became known as the “King of Diamonds” and the “Jeweler to the Stars” in the industry. Today, Harry Winston operates their stores (they term them salons) in more than 40 different global locations.
When it comes to Harry Winston’s diamond engagement rings, there is a set of quality specifications that they adhere to. This is a pretty common practice that is seen in other big international brands like Tiffany and Cartier because they use this as a marketing gimmick for their products.
On their website, Harry Winston state that they only carry D, E and F colorless diamonds because “they are the rarest and the most valuable”. When it comes to clarity, they only select eyeclean VS2 or better diamonds. Cutwise, they limit their diamonds to Very Good and Excellent cut ratings. Their diamonds all come with a GIA grading report and have either faint or no fluorescence.
To an uneducated shopper, this may all sound like rainbows and sunshine. However, if you have some basic knowledge of the 4Cs, you will realize that there’s nothing great about their diamond specifications. In fact, I would even argue that any company who’s marketing diamonds as being “cut and polished to maximize their beauty” should never have anything to do with “Very Good” cut diamonds.
In my opinion, any company that truly cares about light performance and a diamond’s beauty would not carry any diamonds in GIA’s Very Good cut category. If brilliant and beauty were really of utmost importance, why would a company settle for a lower-tier cut rating?
For some context, here are 2 examples of GIA Very Good cut diamonds to give you an idea of how they look like. For more details, you can click on the images to interact with the diamonds.
Personally speaking, if I was paying an exorbitant brand premium for a diamond, it had better not be a sub-par Very Good cut diamond. But that’s just me and my opinion. Would you want to pay top dollar for a diamond only to get something that doesn’t have the best performance and sparkle?
Let me know in the comment section.
Screenshot of Harry Winston engagement rings available on their website catalog.
Harry Winston offers a variety of cutting styles and designs for their engagement rings that are made in platinum. They are most well known for their classic 3-stone ring designs which consist of a center stone of your choice and 2 tapered baguette sidestones.
While they do offer a few other pave and halo ring designs, you will notice that their offerings are very limited compared to other retailers. At the time of writing this review, I counted a total of only 29 unique designs (Bridal Couture + Engagement Rings categories).
And if you already have a certain design in mind that isn’t offered by Harry Winston, this can be a big turn off. Now, you may wonder if you could customize a ring with them. Unfortunately, they will only entertain it if the style meets their standards or if you are a really special client.
Harry Winston does not have any return or exchange policies. Their upgrade policy is vague as well. When asked, I was told that the offer of an upgrade depends on a case by case basis and isn’t guaranteed.
Now, I want to point out that Harry Winston offers very generic looking engagement ring designs that can be found at the majority of other jewelers like White Flash and James Allen. Of course, people who work at Harry Winston will always claim that their craftsmanship is superior.
Well, that’s the same marketing lines I hear from salespeople at Cartier and Tiffany too. The thing is, there are plenty of jewelers who fabricate settings to a high workmanship standard and it isn’t unique to any particular vendor. Check out a couple of the reviews I performed here and here to find out more.
Regardless of where you are in the world, Harry Winston stores always give off a grand and royalty-like vibe. The local Harry Winston store I visited is located in Singapore’s central business district and in an upscale mall called Ion Orchard.
Upon entering the store, I was greeted by a friendly salesperson and the interior of the store looks very posh. The warm lights, color palette and ambiance were very welcoming. I browsed around the store for a while before I asked to see some of the engagement rings they had in store.
The salesperson was attentive to what I was looking for and she brought out several rings in the 1 carat size range to show me. In terms of knowledge, I would say that Harry Winston has decently well-trained staff who have some basic degree of gemological knowledge.
However, when it comes to quantifying light performance and more advanced questions like how the depth, lower/upper girdle proportions affect the visual appearance of the diamond, I didn’t receive satisfactory answers. All I got was simply a vague, blanket answer that Harry Winston has the “best” selection process and I am guaranteed a beautiful looking diamond crafted with a “high degree of facet precision”.
To be fair, I don’t expect junior salespeople to have an indepth knowledge of the 4Cs or really know what they are selling. This phenomenon is common among all the big international brands and other smaller jewelers alike.
Being a well-known international brand, I think it is pretty obvious that the price of a Harry Winston diamond engagement ring is going to be high. What took me by surprise is that the price premium for their products is much higher than Tiffany and Cartier when performing a like-for-like comparison.
For the record, I think the prices for Tiffany and Cartier are already excessive based on the quality of the product they are selling. But, Harry Winston takes things to another level with their even higher price premium.
During my visit, I looked at a number of rings across various carat sizes from 0.5 carats to 1.5 carats in size. One of the rings that caught my attention was a halo and pave diamond ring (The One Solitaire Diamond Ring design) that featured a 0.56ct E color VVS2 diamond.
I was quoted an eye-popping $17,500 (after currency conversion from SGD) for the ring and I had to double-check with the salesperson to make sure I was hearing the figures right. Being in the industry, I have a good idea of how much things cost and the fair value of a diamond ring.
While it is common for big international brands (i.e. Cartier/Tiffany) to charge a 2 times more for their products, it is the first time I have come across a branded company that charges a price that is at least 3 to 4 times more!
As a practical person, the question I have in mind is whether I am getting three or four times the value from the product. Here’s a direct price comparison of buying a super ideal cut diamond (GIA #6332087171) and a similarly styled ring from James Allen.
Adding up the 2 components, the total cost of the diamond ring tallies to $3970 ($2420 + $1550). If you do the math, I can buy 4 of the same ring from James Allen with a better cut quality diamond instead of paying the excessive premium for the Harry Winston ring.
I was also shown a platinum solitaire ring design with a 1.08 carat D color VVS1 clarity center stone graded by GIA. The price that was quoted to me was roughly $42,000 (after currency conversion to US dollars). Surprisingly, when it comes to larger sized diamonds, the price premium is relatively lower compared to what they charge for their lower-end goods.
Don’t get me wrong, the price of a 1 carat size engagement ring from Harry Winston is still at least 2 times more! I performed another comparison against White Flash to give you an idea of how much it would cost when buying a similar ring design with a top tier center diamond.
The total cost of buying a similar 1 carat sized diamond at White Flash adds up to be $15,515. That’s a whopping 2.5 times LESS than the price of the Harry Winston ring I was shown in the store.
At this point, I want to be clear about something. When comparing these online retailers to Harry Winston, it isn’t only about comparing higher quality against lower quality. The workmanship standards from James Allen and White Flash is every bit just as good as Harry Winston’s.
I would even say that vendors like White Flash pay more attention to the cut quality and light performance of a diamond than the majority of big brand names. More importantly, they readily offer transparent and verifiable light performance data to help you make an educated decision instead of throwing marketing pitches at you.
Speaking from the perspective of a practical person, getting the best bang for my buck and having tangible data for assessment would be key factors when buying a diamond ring.
On the other hand, shopping in a physical store also severely limits the number of diamond options that are available at any given point in time. This limits your ability to cherry-pick a diamond that best suits your specifications and budget.
Harry Winston is a brand that has an illustrious history and their products come with a hefty premium. Sure, you won’t find an “ugly” diamond ring in their stores but they sure aren’t the place to get the most beautiful diamonds in the market.
If you are specifically looking for a lower colored diamond (e.g. a J or K color diamond) to match a vintage style setting or a yellow gold setting, Harry Winston would not be the best place to shop for your diamond ring.
I understand that brands market and create “exclusivity” by choosing to position their products in a certain way. That’s fine. As a consumer, it would do you well to see and understand how diamonds look like across the spectrum.
In the video below, I’ve performed a comparison across D, H and K color diamonds as well as across the different clarity grades to give you a visual perspective of them in real life. While some of these diamonds have low clarity grades, they are eyeclean and you will never see inclusions without magnification aid.
You actually don’t need a high clarity grade to achieve a beautiful looking diamond. What you need is to ignore the bells and whistles and place your emphasis on cut quality. And this means avoiding “Very Good” cut diamonds altogether.
Undeniably, the shopping experience in the physical store is enjoyable and their opulent packaging is one of the best I’ve come across. However, I find it extremely hard to justify the huge price premium Harry Winston places on their engagement rings.
I don’t know about you but I’m someone who is practical. After all, it is the engagement ring that’s going to be worn on the recipient’s hands and be seen by the world. The nice packaging will be staying in the drawer and the shopping experience will wane with time.
In short, these intangible things don’t have long term value for the wearer but yet, they add up to the price premium you are paying for. With all that said, I deeply respect the Harry Winston brand and the reputation the founder has built up with his philanthropy.
While they may not represent good value for money for the majority of consumers, they are a store I would recommend for high rollers who are looking for the multi-million dollar masterpiece that can’t be found anywhere else. In my opinion, that’s the niche market where Harry Winston really shines.
Hopefully, you found this Harry Winston review insightful and useful. Now, I want to hear from you. Is Harry Winston a brand that resonates with you on a personal level? Would you buy a diamond engagement ring from them? Leave a comment below and let me know!
Your site is very informative. Thanks! When comparing Harry Winston vs Cartier vs Tiffany, how would you rank their diamond quality in terms of cut and brilliance?
I am assuming you are talking about their round diamonds. I personally won’t shop at all 3 companies if I were looking for top notch cut quality diamonds. There are much better places to buy a truly well cut diamond ring.
If we are talking about brand and prestige, then that’s a different matter altogether.
Now, if I were to rank Harry Winston vs Tiffany vs Cartier, I would rank them this way:
1. Tiffany (best)
3. Harry Winston
From my experience, Tiffany has the better curation standards for cut quality among these 3 big brands. However, if I were to rank them according to costs, Harry winston engagement ring prices would come up tops
I love the look of the HW belle micro pave harry winston engagement ring but the price for a 2 carat size round diamond center stone is way out of my budget. Do you know where I can get a similar design to the Belle micorpave ring?
Due to copyright issues, jewelers won’t be able to replicate the diamond ring with 100% of accuracy. So, if you really like the Belle ring from HW in its exact design, then you would have to get it from them. However, there are similar looking designs that you may want to consider below:
Thanks for your review of Harry Winston. It is a very nice read and offers very good perspectives of the brand. I’m looking for a 2 carat cushion cut engagement ring. If the ring cannot be customized, what happens when you see a ring in store that you like but is too big or too small for the hands to fit?
Ring resizing is not the same as customizing a ring. The definitions are different. Customization for a ring in their context would mean asking them to create a design of your choice or make design alterations to existing ring designs. They don’t offer this service.
As far as I know, Harry Winston does ring sizing for free if you need to upsize or downsize the ring when making the purchase.
Harry Winston is one of the biggest fine jewelry players in the market and their in-store experience is one of the best in the industry. I’ve studied in marketing and psychology where I see how Harry Winston positions itself in the industry. I’m sure the margins are fat but that’s what they stand for and makes them exclusive. If they were to lower their prices, it would actually be dissonant to its image and cause brand dilution. This will make them competing with every other jeweler in the market which they don’t want. So, selling a brand and a dream is their way of competing in the industry. This is why Harry Winston engagement rings prices are charged at such a big premium.
Yep, I agree with your thoughts. Harry Winston is a very prestigious brand that’s well known in the industry. If someone is an elite or extremely wealthy, the choice of large size diamonds and exclusive inventory they have would cater well for their needs. For the general public (myself included), I am not intending to blow half a million dollars in a jewelry purchase and most people actually have a much smaller budget in the range of $4000 – $10000.
In my opinion, HarryWinston may not be the best place for less affluent consumers to buy their jewelry as they can get much better value in the smaller carat sized goods elsewhere. At the end of the day, whether Harry Winston is the right jeweler for you depends on the kind of lifestyle you have and whether or not having a branded ring makes a difference to you.
I beg to differ in opinion when you say that Harry Winston has a limited number of designs in your review. They have many jewelry designs that are split across 2 main categories: “High Jewelry” and “Jewelry”. There’s a range across Art Deco and nature inspired designs that I don’t see offered elsewhere.
Also, in your review of The One Solitaire Diamond ring design, the setting has pave diamonds on the gallery and this is a subtle detail that is different from the James Allen ring setting you used in the comparison. The price of a HW engagement ring can be due to these subtle details that you miss.
You are right. When I wrote this Harry Winston review, my focus is mainly on engagement rings instead of any other type of jewelry. I think it would be fair to say that most people aren’t multi-millionaires that are going to plunk down millions of dollars for a piece of jewelry in the High Jewelry category. I would say these are unique pieces that most people aren’t looking for.
To your point about prices, the premium comes from the brand itself and not really from tangible features on the ring. Yes you are right, there are some suble differences with the paved gallery and I think you didn’t get the point. Would adding these melee diamonds on the gallery account for more than a $10,000 difference?
Also, here’s a cushion halo design with melee diamonds on the gallery and side profile. The cost of this setting is just an additional $600 and even if someone chose this setting, the total cost of the ring would be nowhere near the price of the Harry Winston ring.
Design here: https://www.jamesallen.com/engagement-rings/halo/14k-white-gold-cushion-outline-and-pave-gallery-engagement-ring-item-53074
In fact, let me up the stakes and select a larger size and better quality diamond with this 0.73 carat E color VVS1 diamond that only costs $4,100.
Details here: https://www.jamesallen.com/loose-diamonds/round-cut/0.73-carat-e-color-vvs1-clarity-true-hearts-cut-sku-8961515
This larger sized diamond is cut with extreme precision and light return. Yet, the total cost is nowhere near a 5 digit figure.
I was shown a 1 carat F VS2 diamond in a solitaire ring design in a recent visit and was quoted $34,000 for the ring. Do you think this is a good buy? I am cognizant that harry winston engagement ring prices are much higher than other retail stores but my girlfriend has her eyes with that particular design.
To answer this question, let’s answer some others first. What is your income level? What type of occupation does your fiancé work in? And, do you feel that the price would overshadow the beauty of the ring, or vice-versa?
Your income level is something to be considered before committing to a Harry Winston. For example, if you are making only a couple thousand a month, it would take quite some time to be able to afford something this expensive. But, if your salary is fairly high, you may be able to save up and make a nice selection from this company.
It matters what job your significant other works at, because a Harry Winston is a very special piece and a significant investment. If she is engaged in any activity that could cause damage to her jewelry on a consistent basis, you may want to consider something else.
The price may be a big or small part of your decision. If you can’t get over the ring costing $30,000.00, you will have a hard time seeing the value in it, and may eventually grow to resent the purchase. However, if you feel that this price or higher would be fair, you are well on your way to being an owner of a Harry Winston engagement ring.
Hi and thank you for writing this Harry Winston review. I had already done a ton of research but this was still helpful.
What I was looking for when I went to your site: I have a friend of a friend who has been in the jewelry business for years and years. He is very old school, and I don’t think he is dishonest. I don’t know him personally, but he was, back in the day as he is an older gentleman, a buyer for Harry Winston.
He contends that I should pay more attention to how the diamond LOOKS versus its stats and he thinks certifications are overrated and people overpay for them. He thinks we can find the “hidden gem” in a pile of uncertified diamonds and get a superior stone for less money. I can find not one internet diamond site or guru who agrees with this and in fact they say pretty much the opposite, including your site.
You were as balanced in your opinion though as I have seen. BTW I think your site is excellent. It has SO much really great and detailed information!
So what do you really think?
This is a big purchase for us at this time in our lives. It is actually a sad story… my husband of 28 years took both my engagement ring (appraised at 2.5cts round, I, VS1, and custom cast setting, no certificate but he bought it from my Uncle Augie who had a storefront in NYC in the Diamond district.) and wedding band (bar set 5 stone at 1/3 ct each) to have tuned up, and he LOST them out of his pocket. (yeah. I know.) So we are replacing the rings and driving ourselves nuts with the research. We have a limited budget so that adds to the stress.
There are no deals when buying diamonds. Only dumb consumers who think they paid an unrealistically good price.
If you are going to pay this guy for his services, it’s very simple, get the uncertified diamond graded at GIA. It only costs $100 and you will know the quality of the stone.
Then get tangible data on the diamond and this will give you scientific, unrefutable facts about the diamond’s cut quality.
If your “friend” is as good as he says he is, you should be able to verify all these with tangible, scientific facts. It’s not that hard and takes out any bias opinions.
If ANY of these claims don’t meet with what the gemological facts are stated as, i.e. if your friend says it’s an F color and you gotten a J color at GIA, well, you know what kind of standards they have and how “good” they are. Get it down written ON paper that a 100% refund will be necessary in black and white. Oh, and if that guy don’t even know what an ASET scope or H&A image is used for, run.
It’s much more simpler to deal with the vendors here where EVERY SINGLE data is provided.
p.s. I’ve seen enough of these “friends” that actually do more hard to the consumer than good. For the record, NONE of my readers who bought stuff like what you described ended up with a good purchase. And I repeat. NONE. I’ve more than 40 such readers come running for help after getting ripped off over the years.
Thank you!!! I so appreciate you responding to me and you verified my deepest concerns. And frankly it’s not worth the hassle. Since he’s a referral I’m just going to tell him that if he wants to show me diamonds that have already been certified then I’m happy to look at them otherwise I’m going elsewhere.
What do you think of this pre-owned Harry Winston (The One Solitaire Diamond Ring) with micropave sidestones? It is being sold at a price of $7,400 on eBay and it is 0.57 carat in weight. The original price of the Harry Winston halo ring is about $18,500 and now it is listed for less than half the price. The GIA report number is 5166964024 and do you think the diamond is well cut?
How much are harry winston engagement rings on the secondary market priced in general?
I would avoid this ring because the diamond isn’t well cut enough by my standards. The crown angles are a tad high and the lower girdle facets are too long for my liking. More importantly, the 2nd hand price is still ridiculously high! For $7,400, it’s still way more expensive than buying a better cut diamond with better specifications and an identical looking setting.
Next, you can choose this similar looking setting to complete the ring which will add $1,430 to the cost. Even if you choose the larger diamond with better cut quality, the total price of the ring comes up to only $5,540. That’s still roughly 20% cheaper than the price of the second hand Harry Winston ring!
To be clear, I have no problem with paying more for a higher quality product. I personally use high-end ear phones from Shure and pay top dollars for a Herman Miller chair to sit on. These are items that can cost 10 times more than most products found in their respective categories. The point is, I have no problem with hefty price tags if the value delivered by the product lives up to it. Personally speaking, that’s not what I feel about the engagement rings from the big international brands across the board.
The price of harry winston engagement rings in a second hand condition would really depend on where you buy it from and the condition it is in. If you are buying it in an auction, there are additional fees on top of the cost of the jewelry piece you have to pay.
eBay sellers and other 2nd hand stores online tend to have better prices but there’s also a higher risk on the product not turning out the way it is marketed.
How much are harry winston engagement rings worth on the secondary market? I saw a couple of branded harry winston engagement rings for sale in the urls below and they are still more expensive than buying a brand new ring somewhere else.
https://www.1stdibs.com/jewelry/rings/engagement-rings/harry-winston-one-round-brilliant-diamond-micropave-platinum-ring-us-425/id-j_4873151/ 1 carat HW halo ring – GIA#5196307835
https://www.ebay.com/itm/Harry-Winston-1-01-ct-Round-Diamond-Solitaire-Engagement-Ring-D-VVS1-Rtl-38k/264761802662 1 carat HW solitaire ring
https://www.worldsbest.com/jewelry/1423261644/handmade-platinum-gia-234ct-harry-winston-round-brilliant-baguette-diamond-ring 2 carat HW solitaire ring – GIA#15805089
They are worth what someone else would be willing to pay for them. All 4 aren’t well cut diamonds by my standards and I think you need to be more discerning about cut quality especially when these goods cost so much! They are actually MORE expensive than buying a brand new diamond ring elsewhere with better brilliance and sparkle.
The first diamond GIA #5196307835 has excessively steep pavilion angles of 41.2 degrees and this causes light leakage in the diamond. The second diamond has OK proportions but I would need to see tangible information like ASET scope or idealscope images to assess the stone. The 3rd and 4th diamonds are outright mediocre and the worse of the lot.
I’m actually surprised that both diamonds made it past quality control at HW when they curate their selections. Their steep pavilion angles are horrible.
Extremely fair and informative review of HW engagement ring sales. Thak you.
I’m with you…I want all the forces of nature to come together in a Diamond at a fair price.
I have inherited my mother in law’s 1 carat solitaire engagement ring set in platinum with baguettes on each side. It is from 1951 and I treasure it. I also have the matching wedding ring, a slim baguette encrusted ring which compliments the solitaire perfectly.
How can I keep them clean and sparkling? Is a sonic cleaner the best or a wet solution with gentle brushing the best?
It really depends on your lifestyle. Both cleaning methods work and have their pros/cons. An ultrasonic cleaner would obviously take up more space and require some degree of maintenance to keep it working properly. But an ultrasonic cleaner offers quick and easy cleaning in a matter of minutes. A brush and some soapy water is fuss-free but does require a more hands-on approach. In general, I recommend readers to buy an ultrasonic cleaner if they intend to clean their jewelry regularly (i.e. everyday). Otherwise, it would be overkill. I personally use an old toothbrush to clean my wife’s rings once a month because she is generally careful during wear and doesn’t touch her diamond when it is worn.