H.Stern's private collection: Rock stars at Adora
() - November 23, 2011 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Precious gemstones and jewels fascinate men and women alike. They are magical, mythical. Hans Stern fell in love with them when he was 23 years old and working as a typist for a trading company. He first saw them as a small mound on someone’s desk. As he held the glittering rocks and carefully transferred them from hand to hand, he made a decision that would alter not only his future but also an entire industry.

It was 1945 and that was the birth of H. Stern Jewelers. The 66-year-old company is now the largest jeweler in Brazil and Latin America and one of the largest and most recognizable jewelry brands in the world. 

Iron Man’s golden woman: Gwyneth Paltrow gets her Hollywood Walk of Fame star wearing H. Stern’s Highlight Stars ring.

Starting with a small gemstone trading office in downtown Rio de Janeiro, Hans quickly expanded into jewelry manufacturing and gemstone cutting. Soon after he opened his first store near the docks, where the world’s most affluent travelers arrived on board luxurious cruise ships.

In 1964 Time magazine published an article calling Hans Stern “the king of colored stones.” The praise of the media grew through the years, somewhat proportionally to H. Stern’s own growth. Today, H. Stern’s jewels and watches are present in 32 countries, through a network of 160 family-owned and -operated stores and around 170 additional points of sale.

Hans Stern, however, didn’t just grow his own business. He created and promoted international interest in colored gemstones. If it weren’t for him, the dazzling aquamarine, tourmaline, amethyst and topaz would not be so valued today. Before Hans, the market and fine jewelry industry focused solely on diamonds and the so-called oriental stones: rubies, sapphires and emeralds. Through Hans’ efforts, the “other colored gemstones” became desirable, and were ultimately called “Brazilian colored stones,” whether they were actually found in Brazil or not (Brazil is indeed the world’s largest producer of such gems).

Pioneering Spirit

Dissatisfied with the quality of workmanship he found in Brazil in the ’40s, Hans invited lapidary technicians and goldsmiths from Europe to work for the company. His concern for quality became an obsession and, in 1947, led him to create an International Warranty Certificate to attest to the quality of his jewels.

In the ’50s, Hans launched a series of innovative strategies to attract clients who used to visit Rio de Janeiro. First, a guided tour through the workshops was implemented to offer the visitors a complete overview, step by step, of the delicate creative process.

In 1958, H. Stern was the first jewelry company in Latin America to establish its own gemological laboratory. Every gemstone used by the company passes through the lab’s sophisticated state-of-the-art equipment, and all tests performed conform to rigorous GIA (Gemological Institute of America) standards.

The First Time So Many Things Happened

In 1959 H. Stern innovated again when it organized the first jewelry fashion show in Brazil. In the same year, they were the only Latin American brand to participate (by invitation) in the London-based Victoria and Albert Museum’s “Modern Jewellery Exhibition.” In the next few years, H. Stern won several design awards and became a reference in jewelry design throughout the world. Since then, kings, queens, artists, politicians and countless celebrities made it a point to visit the H. Stern World headquarters in Rio de Janeiro. 

In 1975, another first: the first time an H. Stern Trunk Show was held. Once a year from then on, H. Stern clients had the opportunity to bring their unwanted gold pieces and trade them in, at a premium value, as part of payment on the purchase of a new jewel. The idea was so successful and popular that many other jewelers in Brazil (and abroad) copied it.

In 1983 Hans moved his headquarters to a new building in Ipanema. It was the first building ever planned to house every area involved in the manufacturing and retailing of fine jewelry: goldsmith and lapidary workshops, laboratories, training facilities, offices, museum, showrooms, and much more. At the time, actress Brooke Shields attended the official opening and took part in a charity-driven fundraiser fashion show. In the same year, Hans unveiled a private museum of raw stones, rare specimens and award-winning creations. This museum also houses his very impressive personal collection of tourmalines, counting every known shade of this incredible gem (there are more than 1,100 stones in his collection).

H. Stern’s DNA: Designer Jewelry

These collections were the ancestors of a creative philosophy that would be adopted and become part of H. Stern’s DNA in the next decade: designer jewelry. In the ’90s, under the guidance of Roberto Stern, Hans’ eldest son and president of the company, H. Stern went through an extensive restructuring process. In the product development area, the company started to observe and interpret behavioral, style and fashion trends, and continued to launch collections inspired by various personalities such as Costanza Pascolato (1997), musician Carlinhos Brown (1999), artist Anna Bella Geiger (2000), furniture designers Fernando and Humberto Campana (2001) and fashion designer and cultural icon Diane von Furstenberg (2004).

H. Stern also constantly innovates technologically, creating new gemstone cutting and polishing techniques. In order to achieve such unique technical expertise, the H. Stern design team is regularly challenged to rethink established processes and relearn centuries-old techniques from different points of view. These efforts culminated in 2004 with the development and launch of “Stern Star,” a diamond of exclusive organic and asymmetric cut.

The company was no less innovative in watches. In 1970, H. Stern won the Prix de La Ville de Genève with a super-modern, semi-rectangular, semi-round quartz watch (even before mega watch brands like Citizen launched their first quartz models). The watch remains part of the company’s museum archives. The first commercial watch collection — the Sapphire Watch — was launched in 1985 and is still one of the brand’s best-selling items. In the past decade, H. Stern invested heavily in watch research and development, developing manufacturing infrastructure in Switzerland and launching two collections of sporty quartz watches — Form (1998) and Sfera (2002) — as well as a family of sophisticated, complicated, mechanical watches called “Les Mecaniques” (2003), featuring limited, numbered editions of handmade 18K gold timepieces.

Today, Roberto Stern combines his responsibilities as president of H. Stern with his passion for the creative side of the company, focusing on innovative aspects of the brand’s presence, marketing and product development. In North America, Hans’ second son, Ronaldo Stern, is CEO and also a member of the board, along with Mrs. Stern and their two other brothers, Rafael and Ricardo Stern. Other directors (mainly women), have been newly nominated to promote continuous renewal and expansion. This management and a global team of more than 3,000 professionals, including 600 artisans, ensure that the core values and objectives that were instilled by Hans Stern 66 years ago will continue to guide H. Stern every day and into the future.

Hans’ Private Collection

The most beautiful pieces of jewelry in the world can simply be described as luxurious and breathtaking. Luxurious because of the rarity of the materials that compose the piece, and breathtaking because of the metamorphic process that the materials undergo to take an elevated form and shape as manifested by the designer behind each glorious creation.

While most jewels are thought to be beautiful, there are some which understatedly evoke a brilliant kind of sophistication, and naturally becomes a radiant feast for the eyes, the most dazzling of which are archive designs that they say are generally not for sale. Heritage jewelry is meant to be kept from the public, kept within the brand’s high-security vaults, and only see the light of day when a high-profile celebrity is styled to wear them during awards season or when they are set out to be exhibited and displayed for a special occasion.

As one of the world’s most recognizable brands in making a wonderful selection of jewelry inspired by nature and the arts, H. Stern brings a piece of its cultural and visionary heritage to our shores. Hans Stern, initially a gemstone trader who later on became one of the notable names in the jewelry industry, gives us all an opportunity to further explore the rich background of their design house.

Just in time for the holiday season, H. Stern shows Manila the heart of their label with the arrival of an exclusive selection from Mr. Stern’s Private Collection. Apart from their regular offerings, these special items are not available for public consumption and are quite rare, to say the least. For the second year in a row, Adora brings these fantastic pieces to not only showcase and highlight their delicate and exquisite designs but to also make them available, for a limited time.

Inspired by the dynamic culture of Brazil, from where the brand originates, H. Stern reflects the magnificent vibrancy of its home country. Their Private Collection is comprised of unique designs that not only reflect its wondrous history but also herald the signature aesthetic of the label — crafted creations inspired by life and the world, all of which have etched stars to signify each piece’s authenticity.

From nature to works of art, H. Stern has taken pride in translating inspiration to splendid forms of fine and elegant and timeless jewelry you can wear forever. Traditional silhouettes that have been given a modern and contemporary touch, H. Stern thrives in making artful renditions from natural influences.

H. Stern’s Cobblestone line celebrates the allure of the unusual. Taking after the famous cobblestone street in Buzios, Brazil, the collection stunningly interprets the street’s paving through the ingenious use and placement of stones, which are cut with precision in order to enhance the brilliance and transparency of each piece. While the shapes of the gemstones individually differ from one another, the final product boasts a symmetry that is nothing less than polished perfection.

The brand’s Nature Top series features an amazing array of delicate patterns moved and inspired by the simple components of nature. Entwined shapes of leaves and branches luxuriously manifested through earrings, pendants and rings are distinctly recognizable in their designs, which make use of spectacular diamonds and gemstones such as green and pink tourmalines as well as the soft hues of amethyst, each cut in an organic pear shape.

As a revival of the Japanese art movement, origami, the Geisha collection reflects the rich culture that strongly influenced the Art Nouveau period in the 20th century. Presented in the brand’s signature Noble Gold, a flawless finish that complements both gold and silver metals, the meticulous leaf detail of each intricate piece appears as if it’s naturally been blown from a nearby tree — nature in its most natural degree given a graceful touch with a select number of diamonds for added charm.

The Sofia collection renders floral-inspired pieces reminiscent of the ’50s and ’60s era and takes on a more romantic, feminine and classic approach, achieving a harmonious look that celebrates the golden years as they are glamorously set with a graduation of white, yellow and cognac diamonds, and in noble gold — a dazzling pair of earrings that is dramatically gorgeous.

More architectural in nature, the Sunrise and the Virtuose pieces evoke a more faceted and modern interpretation of jewelry, leaving the setting simple in order to elegantly emphasize the luminosity of the gemstones. The appropriately named Sunrise and Sunrise Top collection makes use of varying shades of citrine, which can go from pale yellow to glowing orange, or the pastel hues of amethysts as well as rutilated and smoky quartzes set in 18K yellow or noble gold, accentuated with either diamonds or sapphires.  The jewelry from Virtuose takes on a more architectural shape — large and rectangular cut while set in the most minimal form. Set to appear as if the pieces are floating on your neck, Virtuose takes inspiration from the Art Deco movement, which makes for pieces that look sophisticated and structured at the same time.

As H. Stern takes inspiration from nature and culture, it also takes advantage of work by masters of art. Reflected in the Giverny collection, which was named after the gardens Claude Monet tended until his death, the jewelry echoes with organic shapes that have been influences by the artist’s impressionistic nature, giving depth and dimension to the pieces that round up this extraordinary collection, much like Monet’s philosophy. Based on his passion as an artist and his study of work as a gardener, Giverny hovers on various layers and proportions that play off the elements of the jewelry, some of which have diamonds that even manifest a subtle change of color when there are subtle changes in light.

As they say, art and nature are within us, and what could be more beautiful than to wear jewelry inspired by these life forces? H. Stern makes it possible.

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The H. Stern Private Collection will be available only at Adora for a limited time. Adora is located on the second and third floors of Greenbelt 5, Ayala Center, Makati.

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