Jose Hess 1933–2021
Jose Hess was always captivated by jewelry, even from a young age. Born in 1933, his Jewish family fled Germany and settled in Colombia, where immigration officials changed his name from Josef to Jose. As a teenager he apprenticed with a Viennese goldsmith to support his parents who had fallen ill. At the age of 17, Hess immigrated to the United States where he continued his jewelry education after finishing high school, first at the Gemological Institute of America, then at the Mechanics Institute of New York. After serving four years in the US military, he became a full-time jeweler at David Webb where he became captivated by the simple glamor that jewelry could provide.
In 1958, Hess established a business under his own name. Even though he had a solid jewelry education and budding career, it proved difficult to gain traction in the market. To set himself apart, Hess began to enter design competitions. In 1963 he won the first of what proved to be many awards, the De Beers Diamonds International Award, for a diamond leaf pin. His popularity as a trusted brand grew exponentially after that. Throughout his career, he was the receipt of dozens of accolades, such as the Spectrum Award from the American Gem Trade Association and the International Gold Corp. Certificate.
Hess’s trademark style was sophisticated beauty and he proved that simplistic and elegant jewelry could reign supreme. He aimed to create pieces that could dazzle on the red carpet and easily transition to everyday life as well. Celebrities such as Ariana Grande and Cindy Crawford have donned his designs. After passing at the age of 87 in 2021, Magdalena Hess, his wife and creative partner, assumed control of the business and continues to create pieces in his iconic style.
Auction Results Jose Hess