Those who love fine jewelry (and what woman doesn’t??) know that many of the world’s finest colored gemstones are mined and processed in Brazil. South Africa may be synonymous with diamonds, but Brazil is where tourmalines, topaz, aquamarines, emeralds, amethysts and rubellites are found in abundance.
And one of the most prominent names in international jewelry retailing is H. Stern, founded in Rio in 1945. With ateliers and shops now in more than 30 countries across the globe, the brand is at the forefront of fine fashion, noted for its fine designs and a passionate attention to detail across every step of the creative process.
Knowing this background, we jumped at the chance to visit the world headquarters of H. Stern in the Ipanema neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro. Especially when we were told we’d be able to explore some of the private collection of this world-famous jeweler.
At the appointed time, we arrived at the company and were greeted by a friendly company representative. After describing some of the company’s history, she led us to the design studios, where a number of jewelry craftsmen were working on various pieces.
We watched as the artisans sketched out some ideas, while others at the workbenches were fashioning metals into lovely settings. We chatted with some of them and learned how they try to fashion a piece to reflect the qualities of the gemstone it would contain.
Next, we were taken into the private repository and museum at H. Stern, where gemstones of various kinds are curated and displayed. We saw all colors of the rainbows and learned the names of various stones we’d never heard of before. The differences between the uncut, mined stones and what they turn into after cutting and polishing is truly amazing.
Finally, we were shown the late Hans Stein’s private collection of more than one thousand tourmalines, all mined in Brazil between 1922 and 2007. The company’s founder was totally enamored of this stone, and after viewing his collection, we can understand why.
We thoroughly enjoyed the couple of hours we spent at H. Stern. And when we go shopping tomorrow, we know what we’re going to be looking for!