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Hans Stern fled Germany when he was only 16 years old to escape Nazi violence and persecution. In 1945, only six years after the family settled in Brazil, he founded H. Stern Jewelers, a small shop in Rio de Janeiro’s harbor, the point of arrival for international cruises that docked on the Carioca city. Soon after he opened another branch in one of Rio’s luxury hotels. Since that moment, the brand has grown into a leading jewelry firm of international renown.
H. Stern has played an important role in the world of haute jewelry during the last few decades. The Brazilian brand introduced gemstones that were usually dismissed by traditional jewelers, like aquamarines, amethysts, topaz, citrine, and tourmaline, taking the market by storm with materials that were readily available in the vast territories of Brazil. H. Stern was the only Latin American label invited to participate in the 1961 exhibition of modern jewelry organized by London’s Victoria and Albert Museum.
They also made waves in 1980, when French icon, Catherine Deneuve, became the inspiration for one of their most successful collections, setting a trend that other labels still follow: using international celebrities as the muses for their collections. Their audacious advertising campaigns and award-winning catalogs have been highly praised, even presented in museums and galleries. Another of the brand’s innovations was the barter system: every year clients can exchange their old H. Stern pieces to acquire new ones. Other jewelers (not only from Brazil) have adopted some variations of this strategy.
In 1995, to celebrate the brand’s 50th anniversary, H. Stern launched an ambitious rebranding program. His son, Roberto Stern, took creative control, turning the House’s classic approach into a design-driven philosophy. The size and color of the stones were no longer the only defining factor when appreciating fine jewelry. They opted for simple, elegant designs where straight lines predominate. With this move, the company attracted a younger clientele without abandoning its roots and values, setting a hot trend once more.
H. Stern is headquartered in Ipanema. The operation site has 450,000 square feet, making it the world’s largest space dedicated to jewelry manufacturing and gemstone marketing. It is the fourth largest tourist attraction in beautiful Rio de Janeiro, welcoming more than 10,000 visitors each month.
The label has stores in major world capitals, and their jewels are worn by the most beautiful and elegant women in the world, such as Katie Holmes, the image of the 2011 Ancient America collection, Sharon Stone, Angelina Jolie, and Uma Thurman.
Other noteworthy collections from the label include Niemeyer, inspired by the works of the iconic Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer; Grupo Corpo, based on the movements of the prestigious dance company Grupo Corpo; and Sutra, created in collaboration with the famous fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg. More recent collections include its Burle Marx, Geometric Code, Signature HS, Moonlight, Ancient America, Iris, Copernicus, Sketches by H Stern, Genesis H. Stern, King & Queen, Stars and Fluid Gold collections. ■