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SF Fashion Week

The history of H. Stern can be traced back to the sale of an old Hohner accordion. Its owner, Hans Stern, a young German émigré to Brazil, parted with the instrument in order to hatch an ambitious plan: namely, to make the land of soccer and samba world-renowned for its colored gems. 60 years later, Hans’ star (Stern means star in German) shines more brilliantly than ever. With a network of over 160 family-owned stores in 12 countries, this visionary’s tiny sparkling dream has blossomed into a luminous constellation.

Escaping from war, death and destruction, 23 year-old Hans Stern arrived in Rio de Janeiro just before the outbreak of World War II. He was greeted there by Roberto Burle Marx, a distant relative and famous painter. Hans’ first impressions of the Latin American paradise were heavily influenced by an artistic perspective. In the bosom of Brazil, enveloped in pure beauty, the young Stern fell in love with the world of colored gemstones. Completely bewitched, his life would never be the same.

The first H. Stern boutique opened in 1949 near the docks in Praça Mauá, where wealthy tourists from all over the world arrived on lavish cruise liners. Though small, the bauble heaven stood out, quickly earning devoted international customers. By offering beautiful aquamarines, amethysts, topazes and tourmalines at a time when most people only knew about emeralds, rubies, sapphires and diamonds, Hans revolutionized the jewelry industry. Indeed, his personal lobbying and aggressive global marketing awakened experts and consumers to the beauty and accessibility of semi-precious stones. Brazil would forever be grateful and later recognize him as an “Honorary Citizen.”

But the gem trading business was not enough for Stern; he had bigger, more dazzling aspirations. Recruiting European-trained goldsmiths and stone cutters to help him build workshops, where innovative designs could be brought to life, he embarked on a mission to turn his ideas into gold. Convinced that the best quality product could only be offered if every step of the production process, from prospecting to detail, was done in house, the Stern vertically integrated his namesake. Today, every single exquisite H. Stern jewel is designed, crafted and sold by the parent company. All aspects of the business are carefully plotted. From the mounting of each stone to the elegant design of flagship stores, H. Stern does business its own way.

Each H. Stern treasure is unique in its modern simplicity and luxurious discretion. Favorites of empowered women, these magnificent treasures are inspired by great names in design, fashion or music. Since the enormous success of the Catherine Deneuve collection, launched in the 80s, the company’s skilled artisans have been looking up to icons of style and couture runways for new ideas. That is why the H. Stern look is always cutting edge, yet true to its original philosophy of premium quality gems, impeccable craftsmanship and uncompromising attention to detail. Infused with an unmistakable essence of sensuality, exclusivity, and grace, H. Stern jewels are sought after by many glamorous women, including Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Lopez, Sharon Stone, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Jennifer Aniston.

Hans Stern’s road to 5th Avenue has been a long and rewarding one. Dubbed “the king of diamonds and colored gemstones, capable of deciphering each stone’s personality and secrets” by the Time magazine in 1964, the extraordinary German with a Brazilian heart is still going strong. Even after entrusting his empire to son Roberto, Hans says he continues to collect unusual gems because he is transfixed by their potential to be transformed. What he does not say is that having loved them once, he just cannot cease to love them now.




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