By Manon Crespi
Family-owned jewelry businesses are special. Each one has its own DNA woven through one generation after another, distinguishing family traits otherwise known as the jewelry’s aesthetic and the company’s best practices. Successful family-owned companies preserve the family heirlooms of design, technique, quality, craftsmanship, and of course customer service, while merging the best of the old with the best of the new.
At the turn of the 20th century, two young Latvian brothers, Oscar and Nathan Heyman, headed to the Ukraine to apprentice at their uncle’s jewelry factory. They spent five years there learning all the secrets of the family trade. One trade secret was a new technology used for working in platinum, which the factory implemented often on the exquisite pieces it made for the House of Fabergé. The two brothers and their seven siblings later immigrated to the US by way of New York City. Here, Oscar found work as a jewelry craftsman at Cartier. In late 1912, Oscar, Nathan and Harry opened the doors of their own jewelry manufacturing company, Oscar Heyman and Brothers.
The young men developed innovative systems for making platinum jewelry. They obtained eight patents over the following 15 years, including one for the Block bracelet, which is still in production today. Oscar Heyman continued its relationship with Cartier in the mid 1970s, designing and manufacturing some of Cartier’s most notable pieces, including the famous Taylor-Burton diamond necklace. Oscar, Nathan, Harry, William, Louis, George, and their sisters, Frances and Lena, all had careers at Oscar Heyman. Today, George’s son, Adam, and Harry’s grandsons, Tom and Lewis Heyman, run the Oscar Heyman company. In the 21st century, Oscar Heyman jewelry, known for its use of exotic and phenomenal gemstones, is considered one of the premier jewelry ateliers for important high-jewelry.
Gumuchian is another family-owned jewelry company that comes from a long line of jewelers, dating back over 100 years. Anita Gumuchian founded her company, Gumuchian, in 1979, and today still runs the Manhattan firm with her daughters, Patricia and Myriam. Designed by women for women, the Gumuchian atelier creates beautifully finished, time-honored pieces in platinum, 18K gold and precious gemstones.
Sergio Cielo, founder of one of Italy’s leading jewelry companies, Cielo Venezia, recently appointed his son, Mattia Cielo, as CEO of the company. The senior Cielo is best known for his contribution to the Italian trends in modern jewelry in the late 80s and 90s. His son, Mattia, has taken this modern philosophy to new heights with his namesake collection, Mattia Cielo. Mattia pushes the envelope with inventive, technical wonder, drawing inspiration from aerospace, micro mechanics and advanced medical technologies. He uses titanium and carbon fiber with gold and diamonds to create unique, easy-to-wear silhouettes that move, stretch and sparkle.
Pasquale Bruni, patriarch of the family and the Pasquale Bruni company, learned the goldsmith trade working with world-renowned jewelry craftsmen of Valenza, Italy. He founded the company, Giolelmoda, in 1976, which was later renamed Pasquale Bruni SpA when the company launched its international brand strategy. Today, Bruni runs the company with his children, Eugenia Bruni and Daniele Bruni. Eugenia is the company’s creative director and Daniele is the company’s gemologist. Pasquale Bruni jewelry is made with 18K gold and both precious and semi precious gemstones. Each Paquale Bruni collection evokes a sense of awe and wonder, and epitomizes the Italian ingenuity of jewelry-making techniques and design.
Click through to see a gallery of more beautiful jewelry from these family-owned jewelers.