During a conversation with a reporter in the 1950’s, Julius Cohen said, “When you’re in the presence of a large, beautiful stone, you have a certain amount of awe and respect for it. There’s no fear at all. Your experience brings you to a point of appreciation. You don’t think of it as being worth $400,000. You are aware it’s a special thing that nature has made. That is the extraordinary thing about it. Being able to enjoy it is a result of man. It is found as a pebble, a rough stone. It takes courage to start cutting it and envision how it can look.” (Diamonds A Century of Spectacular Jewels, Penny Proddow:Marion Fasel, 1996, pp 123-124.)
Just Starting Out
In 1929, Julius Cohen began his apprenticeship in the jewelry industry when he was just a young man of 16. A native New Yorker, he would be a bench jeweler for some years. Later he would become a travelling salesman for his uncle’s manufacturing firm, Oscar Heyman & Brothers.
In his late 20’s he accepted a position with Harry Winston and traveled not only as a salesman but also with the Court of Jewels to promote and educate the public about diamonds. It was the mid 1940’s and the appeal of non-traditional fine jewelry had found a firm foothold in the United States.
Having much success with Harry Winston, Mr. Cohen opened his own salon in New York City in 1955. Throughout the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s, the De Beers Diamonds Awards were the ideal venue for introducing vastly innovative pieces. Mr. Cohen repeatedly won awards for his designs that incorporated precious stones in a myriad of colors. He consistently used large diamonds as well as sizable sapphires, opals, peridot and other gemstones in ornate settings.
In keeping with his contemporaries, known as The Creative Jewelers, he considered jewelry an art in and of itself and repeatedly produced items with an extraordinary combination of creative designs and precise craftsmanship. In 1957 he was a Diamonds Awards-winner for the “Flame of Gold”. Featuring a 28.86 carat canary diamond mounted in a blaze of diamond flames, the splendor of the necklace was unprecedented and quickly found its way into the private collection of a popular Hollywood actor.
Always Client Focused
Although well-known for his talent and inventiveness, it was perhaps his genuine interest in people that elevated his success. He regularly scheduled appointments in the homes of clients making it possible to craft the perfect piece. His charm, charisma and authenticity were the foundation for Julius Cohen Jewelers’ reputation for excellent customer service. Their clients included high society, Hollywood persona, politicians and many other high-profile individuals.
The Later Years
Mr. Cohen participated in the operation, design and matters regarding Julius Cohen Jewelers until he passed away in 1995 at the age of 81. His son-in-law, Leslie Steinweiss and later Mr. Cohen’s granddaughter would become involved with the firm. Located in New York City, it continues to present pristine gemstone jewelry and customer service that excels.