Creative instincts: Assouline uncovers the rich history of H Stern

H stern book
(Image credit: Michael Ainscough)

A leaf through Assouline’s celebration of H Stern makes you realise that it has been a long time coming. We all know the latter as the world’s most recognised Brazilian jewellery name, established by a canny German, Hans Stern, in 1945. He saw the rich international potential in South America’s local, semi-precious gem trade. Yet his approach was different.

Unlike many jewellery houses, H Stern has primarily viewed the exquisite natural resources of its South American home – gold, semi-precious stones – as a creative tool, acting as if sculptor-jewellers. To that end, a thread of suitably starry design collaborations is laced through the fabric of its 70-year history. Oscar Niemeyer, the Campana Brothers, Tim Burton, Roberto Burle Marx and Diane von Furstenberg are just some of the creatives with H Stern jewellery collections to their names. Today, that vision is further boosted by artistic director Roberto Stern’s canny creative instincts, as this timely book attests.

Ancient America collection

The 'Ancient America' collection of 2010 mined the spiritual side of America’s early civilisations, referencing the power of naturalistic symbols. The 'Fish' bracelet mimics the graphic formation of iridescent scales. Made using noble gold, an H Stern alloy mix, yellow gold and cognac diamonds, the meticulous finish and construction is exemplary

(Image credit: Michael Ainscough)

ring with stone

The Stern family had a personal connection to the family of Roberto Burle Marx and so the bond with the landscape architect, who had also started designing jewellery in 1948, was formed early on. In 2011, the Brazilian jeweller paid homage to its great friend, launching a collection in his name and inspired by some of his greatest designs. The garden at the Safra Bank HQ in São Paolo inspired this ring, which also plays with stones – it is made of noble gold, and black, cognac and white diamonds

(Image credit: Michael Ainscough)

Rock Season collection

2013’s 'Rock Season' collection is a fine example of how artistic director Roberto Stern is always casting a wide creative view, refusing to be pinned entirely to the influences of his home country. Taking cues from the London punk scene – spikes, strangeness, nature’s dark side – he revisited its energy as something precious, sleek and modern

(Image credit: Michael Ainscough)

Stern jewellery

Oscar Niemeyer was a cool 100 years old when he made his debut as an H Stern jewellery collaborator in 2008. The centenarian architect agreed to design a jewellery collection only if the forms were drawn from his sinewy sketches and weren't a reference to his architecture. The house designed the pieces to capture the atmosphere of the proportion between empty space and concrete. Oscar’s only other request? 'It has to be beautiful'

(Image credit: Michael Ainscough)


For more information, visit the H Stern website

Photography: Michael Ainscough

Caragh McKay has been a contributing editor at Wallpaper* since 2014. She was previously watches & jewellery director and is currently our resident lifestyle & shopping editor. Caragh has produced exhibitions and created and edited titles for publishers including the Daily Telegraph. She regularly chairs talks for luxury houses, Van Cleef & Arpels and Cartier among them. Caragh’s current remit is cross-cultural and her recent stories include the curious tale of how Muhammad Ali met his poetic match in Robert Burns and how a Martin Scorsese film revived a forgotten Osage art.