Hans Stern a Brazilian jeweler who was nicknamed the “king of the colored gems” by the New York Times. It was due to Stern’s vision that the world got more than a glimpse of Brazilian precious stones. He made a name as one of the most prolific Brazilian jeweler and businessman.
Hans Stern was born a Jewish German in Essen, Germany on October 1, 1922. However, at the outbreak of the Second World War, he along with his family moved to Brazil. He was just 17 then. The family’s choice to move to Brazil had nothing to do with a previous connection with the country but just the fact that they wanted to escape the atrocities against the Jews in Germany. The Stern family arrived in Brazil in 1939, penniless and clueless.
Since seeking employment was one of the most immediate needs for the family, young Hans managed to find so as a typist with Cristab, a company that was into cutting and exporting Brazilian gemstones. It was during this job, that Hans Stern learned about the jewelry business and saw huge potential in it. He quickly began to learn everything he could about the jewelry industry, even traveling to the mines in Minas Gerais on horseback. There he became friendly with the local miners. They taught him all about the precious stones found in the mines of the area.
Since the export of Brazilian gemstones was practically non-existent at that time, he decided to start his own company. Thus within just six years of arriving at Brazil, Hans Stern founded his own company so that he could market semi-precious stones such as aquamarine, amethyst, tourmaline, and citrine.
Since Hans Stern has literally entered a virgin market, the company grew exponentially. Stern started training young Brazilians on how to work with jewels. Along with the support of the young jewelers, Stern was able to trade international standard Brazilian stones to the world.
As his company grew, Stern started making some changes within the jewels and gemstones industry itself. One of his achievements came when international gemological institutes started using the term “precious colored stones” instead of the old term “semi-precious stones”.
Over the years, H. Stern grew into a retail chain with more than 160 stores around the world. He opened the company’s first international boutiques in Frankfurt, Lisbon and New York City during the 1970s. The company’s success further rose when celebrities, the rich and famous started endorsing his jewels. Some of the illustrious customers of H. Stern included Henry Kissinger, the Shah of Iran and John F. Kennedy. At a point in time, it had almost become necessary for any celebrity visiting Brazil to buy something from Sterns. Hans Stern further saw the success of his company when famous magazines Vogue, Marie Claire, Elle started featuring his jewelry and gemstones.
Hans Stern died on October 26, 2007, at the age of 85. He is survived by his four sons, who were a result of his marriage to Ruth in 1958. The sons - Roberto, Ricardo, Ronaldo, and Rafael now manage the H. Stern Company.