Josef (changed to Jose in Colombia) Hess was born in 1935 in Germany and was forced to flea Germany because of his families Jewish decent settling in Colombia. He started in jewelry design in his early teens (14) when he worked as a goldsmith’s apprentice to a Viennese jeweler who also fled Germany. The apprenticeship peaked his curiosity and at age 17 he left Colombia to study at the Gemological Institute of America and the Mechanics Institute of New York where he earned his Jewelry Design degree. During his studies he also worked jobs for different jewelers in New York. After graduation he was sent to war in Germany before returning to the US. When he returned he began working for David Webb by first making models, then making handmade pieces. in 1958 he went out on his own and established "flaircraft" as his company and within a couple of years he began marking his pieces with his own name. Since most manufacturing jewelers had not done this at the time it was quite groundbreaking. In doing so he urged retailers to think of his work as designer work creating a brand behind him. The brand grew slowly but the base of clients was solid and Hess built an impressive company by any standards. Hess passed the torch to Magdalena Hess, who continued to run the business.