We’re in Ipanema, the heart of Rio de Janeiro, and it’s quite simply stunning. Its art galleries, cafés and restaurants and of course its famous beach lend it an air of sophistication and elegance.
If there’s anyone in this magnificent city who really understands beauty, it’s Roberto Stern,CEO and Creative Director for H.Stern, one of the world’s leading, most innovative jewellers. It’s our lucky day – we’re meeting him for coffee.
“Roberto, jewellers have traditionally been a fairly close-knit group, sticking to tradition and running their business with a certain degree of secrecy. How come you have broken the mould?”
“When I took over in the 1990s,” Roberto says, “I took over a very successful business created by my father. He was an innovator from the start. Like you say, before him the world of top-quality jewellery was very much a closed book, but he opened up our doors to the public to demonstrate our craftsmanship. He was also the first jeweller in Brazil to use Brazilian gemstones like aquamarines, amethysts, topaz, citrines and tourmalines. Without his vision, these stones might well still just be the domain of stone collectors. Nowadays, they are used in jewellery around the world and are known as Brazilian coloured stones. We created a new demand.”
“You’re something of an innovator yourself,” I say. “Where does your drive and creativity come from?”
“I think I get it from my dad. The only way he could express himself was to do things differently, and I have the same passion. Although I am originally an economist, which helps me with my function as CEO, I got into design because I wanted to do things that people thought were impossible. Create shocking, imperfect, organic design. I also wanted to make the brand attractive to all generations and so transformed the business into a house of design.”
“Why did you decide that was the best way forward?” I ask.
“Since I started in 1995, globalisation has swept the world and consumers everywhere want the same thing: style. They are looking for creativity, simplicity and straight elegant lines. Being ostentatious is out. It takes significant effort to stay on the cutting edge but we are out there with our global team anticipating trends, fashion and behaviour. It’s a far cry from the traditional artisan shops jewellers were known for. In the past few years we have launched collections inspired by the arts, architecture, music and fashion. Recently, we asked Oskar Metsavaht to design a watch for us, and we have just launched a unique Oscar Niemeyer line inspired by the curves he uses in his architectural designs. But while we have grown younger, we still respect and preserve our roots – top-quality craftsmanship.”
© 2012 CoolBrands – Around the World in 80 Brands
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