The German family run firm of Hemmerle was established in Munich in 1893 by brothers Joseph and Anton Hemmerle when they took over the business of respected goldsmith Elchinger who had specialised in creating medals and insignia. They renamed the firm Gebrüder Hemmerle and broadened the range of items made whilst still retaining both the core business and clients, including the Bavarian Royal family. Two years later in 1895 they were appointed ‘Purveyor to the Court’ by Luitpold, Prince Regent of Bavaria and they became renowned for the jewels and objet they supplied to him, his successor King Ludwig III and many of the noble families of Bavaria.
They exhibited at the 1900 Exposition Universelle in Paris where the centrepiece of their display was a magnificent Bishop’s Cross which won the firm a coveted prize. In 1904 they moved into new premises on the fashionable shopping boulevard of Maximilianstrasse which is where they have remained ever since. Around this time they began to create reproductions of antique jewels and became renowned for the quality of their craftsmanship, in particular the complex and delicate techniques associated with filigree work and enamelling. Medal making remained an important part of the business and in 1905 they began making the Bavarian Maximiliansorden. This beautifully ornate gold and enamel medal was established in 1853 and is awarded in recognition of an outstanding achievement in science or art.
Joseph and Anton’s sons Joseph Jr. and Carl Hemmerle joined their fathers’ firm after the end of WWI and were soon fully immersed in the business. In 1937 Carl took sole control of the firm after the death of Joseph Jr. and he was later joined by his wife Lore, together they produced the first of the company’s collections. In preparation to enter the family business their son Stefan trained as a goldsmith in Munich before broadening his experience working for jewellers in France, Italy and Denmark. On his return to Munich he joined Hemmerle along with his brother Franz and during the 1970s his technical expertise coupled with his bold creative vision saw the business grow into an international brand. Of particular note were the jewels inspired by the natural world such as insects, animals and flowers which were celebrated in the book ‘Art of Nature’ published to highlight a selection of these exquisite jewels created between 1979 and 1996.
The firm celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1993 and two years later Stefan and his wife Sylveli assumed full responsibility for the firm. Soon after, the firm began to break away from creating traditional fine jewellery and develop a style that remains recognisably and uniquely their own. Inspired by a client request to create a diamond ring that was contemporary and ‘non-flashy’, Stefan came up with a sleek design that set a large cushion shaped gem into a band of textured iron. This commission sparked a change in artistic direction for the firm and their jewels were soon marrying beautiful gemstones with a range of other unusual materials such as copper, wood, brass and steel and experiments in oxidation and modern, non-traditional finishes were juxtaposed with the use of centuries old techniques. “It was not my intention to shock” said Stefan “though I did want to inspire.”
The firm began to exhibit at prestigious Art Fairs in both Europe and America and in 1998 the Munich boutique was re-designed to reflect their new, innovative, modern jewels. The following year it was decided to re-locate the workshop to a newly renovated town house 10 minutes walk from the atelier. This move provided much more space and allowed the firm to more comfortably accommodate the 22-strong team of master craftsmen who are responsible for bringing Hemmerle jewels to life. In 2006 Stefan’s son Christian and his wife Yasmin joined the firm and ever more innovative designs followed as the next generation took the reins of this family firm.