Jules Roger Sauer, a Brazilian gemstone and design legend who discovered the first Brazilian emerald deposit, died recently at the age of 95.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil--Jules Roger Sauer, the founder of Brazil-based jewelry design company Amsterdam Sauer, died this year. He was 95.

Originally from France, Sauer settled in Brazil at the age of 18, founding the Lapidação Amsterdam, or Amsterdam Lapidary, in 1941. The jewelry design company was later renamed Amsterdam Sauer.

Sauer was a legendary presence in the gemstone and jewelry industry, responsible for discovering the first Brazilian emerald mine in 1963, and for promoting a variety of Brazilian gems in the international market.

In the 1950s, Sauer obtained the 80.47-pound rough Martha Rocha aquamarine, which was said to match the eyes of its namesake, a popular Brazilian beauty queen. The famous stone yielded 50,000 carats of faceted gemstones of the highest-quality color.

Sauer opened his first jewelry boutique in 1956 and today, according to the company’s website, there are 15 locations across Brazil.

Amsterdam Sauer boasts its own museum in Rio de Janeiro, outlining how the gem and jewelry house helped shape the Brazilian and global gem industries.

Sauer was born in the Alsace region of France in 1921 to Jewish parents. He was living in Belgium in 1939 when the principal of his polytechnic school warned him to flee the Nazis.

Sauer made his way to Spain by bike, a journey of more than 1,000 miles. He was briefly arrested there for having no identification but ultimately released, making his way to Portugal and then South America by ship. He was only 18.

He initially taught French in Rio de Janeiro to support himself then took an opportunity offered by a student to work at a gemstone business in the state of Minais Gerais. There, he learned to facet stones.

A mere two years later, Sauer founded his company. He specialized in translating large gems to jewelry while keeping as much size from the original stone as possible. His entire supply chain was in-house, from the selection and cutting of the rough stones to the finished designs that he sold in his store.

He worked with his wife Zilda Waks Sauer, a Polish immigrant who also expatriated in Brazil. They were married in 1950.

Sauer’s son Daniel, the CEO of Amsterdam Sauer said, “My father fell in love with the Brazilian people, their way of life and the colors of the country. I think that, during his whole life, his intention was to pay tribute to these three elements of the national heritage. Besides his huge contribution to gemology and Brazilian jewelry design, his greatest legacy to all of us is the immense love for the country where he was sheltered.”

Sauer is survived by his son Daniel; daughter, Debora; seven grandsons; and four great-grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Zilda, in 2013.

Throughout Sauer’s 75-year career he won many awards, the first of which was a Diamonds International Award in 1966. He was made a member of the Circle of Honor of the Gemological Institute of America in 2004 and was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Colored Gemstone Association in 2007.

Sauer also was an “Honorary Citizen” in several Brazilian cities: Belo Horizonte, Teófilo Otoni, Governador Valadares, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

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