Jules Sauer, the king of the Brazilian emerald, died in February 2017 at the age of 95. I met him in Rio in 2015 to tell his story, that of a young 19-year-old French Jew who, after fleeing Nazi Europe, emigrates to Brazil and becomes the king of the emerald.
Soon after his arrival in Rio, Jules Sauer is hired by a semi-precious stone broker. In the 1960s, his skills and his sharp eye enabled him to detect an emerald in a batch of aquamarines brought back by a miner. At the time, the only South American country known to produce emeralds is Colombia. He then leaves with the miner to explore the Minas Gerais region, digs with him, discovers other emeralds and above all, buys all the concessions he can.
Back in Rio, he sent a few stones to the German and English expert firms which refused to recognize the stones as emeralds. Jules Sauer turns to the Gemological Institute of America which, after few long months, certifies the stones as real emeralds. His fortune is made. In 1966, his luxury stones company, Amsterdam Sauer, was the first South American jeweler to win the Diamonds International Award, the most prestigious award in international jewelry.