“The Staying Power of Christian Bauer”
JQ International Magazine
By Caroline Rath
Page 28 and 29
Having forged heirloom jewelry and wedding bands for 129 years, Christian Bauer believes quite literally in “jewelry as a timeless symbol.” So, although its wares and methods are steeped in tradition, today the exacting design house utilizes advanced techniques to produce custom-forged, die-struck rings, with fashion-forward design elements.
Christian Bauer was an ambitious young silversmith who, in 1880, started a business creating original pieces and peddling them door to door. By the early 1900s, Bauer employed his sons Karl, a gifted goldsmith and artisan, and Friedrich, skilled in both sales and business. As the family tree sprouted new branches, so did the company. Friedrich’s daughters, Elise and Elfriede, joined the family business and, when they married – in a double ceremony – the talented new sons-in-law, Julius Keller and Helmut Hutt, became partners too.
Keller’s fresh design perspective – inspired by both his native Germany as well as his extensive world travels – added new depth to Christian Bauer pieces; Hutt’s technical expertise elevated the company’s production values in terms of reliability and precision.
Today , the family legacy continues with Christian Bauer’s great-grandchildren: Helmut’s daughter, Uta Hutt, acts as a general manager, while her sister, Eva Schneider (formerly Eva Hutt), and their cousin, Rosemarie Hirzel (formerly Rosemarie Schneider), are active partners in the company.
Although all of the workmanship and alloying is still performed in Germany, the brand is sold throughout the world, and distributed in North America and the Caribbean by Penn Gem International, which is sincerely passionate about the product.
“If (a) jeweler has customers looking for the highest quality wedding bands with innovative designs and superior craftsmanship, then we feel Christian Bauer is the best choice,“ asserts Penn Gem’s president, Eric Schwotzer. “Why buy a band that will not last for generations?”
The Test of Time
Despite a challenging economy, Schwotzer says that Christian Bauer is doing well. “High-quality wedding bands seem to be recession proof,” he says. “We have had a steady re-ordering.”
The company has certainly seen its fair share of difficulty in the past, having survived through two world wars. Fortunately, it seems to be as resilient as the wedding bands it produces. Christian Bauer has consistently used creative strategies to come through hardship stronger than before.
In reaction to the current economic crunch, the company revamped its website – www.ChristianBauer.us – so that retailers can quickly “access pricing, pictures and product knowledge,” according to Schwotzer. The site provides a wide variety of options, catering to the changing tastes of shoppers. “We have seen a large increase in palladium rings being ordered by men,” Schwotzer notes. “But platinum is still highly asked for (as well).”
There are elements of the wedding band business that remain timeless, of course. “Men want style and durability,” Schwotzer says – and, as fate would have it, that’s exactly what Christian Bauer is all about.