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Donald Haack, 78, diamond expert, adventurer, author and founder of Donald Haack Diamonds & Fine Gems in Charlotte passed away peacefully on Sunday, March 1, 2009
Diamond Memoirs
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The Hope Diamond on display at the National Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C.. Author: David Bjorgen
Harry Winston
(March 1, 1896 – December 8, 1978) was an American jeweller. He donated the Hope Diamond to the Smithsonian Institution in 1958 after owning it for a decade. He once sent a 726 carat (145 g) rough diamond, "The Jonker", through the US Postal Service, foregoing other more conventional means of secure transfer.
Harry Winston's jewelry empire began with his acquisition of Arabella Huntington's famous jewelry collection. The wife of railroad magnate Henry Huntington, Arabella amassed one of the world's most prestigious collections of jewelry, largely from Parisian jewelers such as Cartier.
When Harry Winston purchased the collection after her death, the designs of the collection were quite old fashioned. Harry Winston redesigned the jewelry into more contemporary styles and showcased his unique skill at jewelry crafting. According to the Huntington museum: "He frequently boasted that Arabella’s famous necklace of pearls now adorned the necks of at least two dozen women around the world."
One famous quote of his is, "People will stare. Make it worth their while."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Harry_Winston
My Encounters
with Harry Winston

by Donald Haack
Over the years, I had several opportunities and wonderful encounters with the well-known Harry Winston, world jeweler.
(These incidents are described in book #3, Diamonds ‘neath My Wings, due to be published in 2008):
Once when I was in New York on business, I stopped by his office. He asked if I would like to see something unusual. It certainly was unusual; it was the Hope Diamond.
In another encounter, a buyer for Harry Winston, unknowingly, was purchasing imported bort diamonds from Africa, assuming they were the more expensive “reject” diamonds mined in Brazil and Guiana. I was able to advise Harry before his buyer “broke the bank” thus saving him from considerable losses.
***
(Chapter 30, p. 281, Bush Pilot in Diamond Country):
Jan and I were invited as guests to come to New York to be featured on the nationally syndicated TV series “What’s My Line.”...
We arrived at the Waldorf late in the afternoon, but in time to clean up. The phone rang. It was one of the show’s producers, waiting for us in the bar downstairs, wanting to meet the strange couple who mined diamonds in the middle of South America.
“So, now we’re that strange couple mining diamonds in the jungles of South America?” Jan mused. “They’re probably expecting us to have two heads, or at best that you’ll have long hair, long dress, and look like a missionary. What do you think?”
“I think we ought to dispel that notion and wow them,” she said as she put the finishing touches to her hair and make-up. I gazed at her admiringly…she could have passed for a model out of Vogue Magazine.
Yeah, I thought, that will wow them. Not exactly what they’re expecting. So much the better.
“Okay, let’s go see the big city folk,” and I took her hand. We made the introductions and started our drinks when the producer asked, “You did bring the rough diamonds with you, didn’t you? We want to open the show with a close-up of rough diamonds blasted by strobe lights—should be great.”
I was taken aback. “Whoops,” I exclaimed. “No one mentioned rough diamonds. Did I miss something here?” Jan and I exchanged glances.
“Well, no. We never said to bring them for the show, just thought you would be carrying some and we would shoot those.”
I half-laughed, half choked. “We can’t carry diamonds between countries…that’s called smuggling. Everything is shipped through banks with documented invoices and custom declarations.” I thought for a moment after I saw his disappointment of having his brilliant idea shot down so quickly. “Wait, just a minute. I have an idea.” and I abruptly left the table. I returned ten minutes later. They could tell it wasn’t the hoped for news.
I called Harry Winston at his home and asked if he could help. He said, “Donald, I would be glad to help, but it’s 7:30 p.m., the shop is closed and no one gets in before 9:00 in the morning, an hour later than your 8:00 shooting. Sorry, I wish I could help you. At least come by tomorrow to see me.” Not a happy start but we decided we could put on a good show without the diamonds.
Early the next morning as the pre-broadcast shots were rolling, we heard a commotion at the door. Two security guards came in and interrupted the cameramen.
“Sorry to break in but we have a problem downstairs. Is there a Mr. Haack up here?”
“Yes, here, it’s me. Why?”
“There’s a scruffy looking street person downstairs. Says he wants to speak to a Mr. Haack, no one else.”
I was confused. “No one knows we’re in New York; I haven’t even called my family yet. We arrived late last night from South America. I don’t know who would know I’m here, but let’s go see.” We walked together to the elevator...
***
(This incident is recounted in book #3, Diamonds ‘neath My Wings, to be published in 2008):
Still another meeting with Mr. Winston took place in Geneva, Switzerland. My brother and I sold a fabulous 30 carat earring set of to a Persian princess, who Mr Winston thought should have been his customer. An interesting conversation ensued at the get-together with him.
Links:
http://www.harrywinston.com
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Winston