This year, Cornelis Hollander Designs celebrates its 40th anniversary. Throughout its four decades in business, this renowned jewelry designer and Scottsdale staple has built a prestigious reputation, created unique and coveted collections and amassed numerous awards and accolades. 

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The foundation — and beginning story — of Cornelis Hollander Designs, starts with the vision and artistry of Cornelis Hollander. The Netherlands native trekked from London to Johannesburg, apprenticing and working with well-known jewelers in Hatton Gardens, London’s renowned jewelry district, before planting roots in Arizona with his wife and launching his own business. 

“He met my mom in [South Africa] and they eventually wanted to start a family and settled on Arizona because my dad had a special skill and could get immigrated to the U.S.,” says Walter Hollander. “And so he started his business off here just working in his garage.”

Cornelis Hollander Designs may have had humble beginnings, but because of his previous apprenticeships and experiences in jewelry design from around the world, it didn’t take long to go from garage to a rapidly growing and recognizable brand. 

“We started by creating jewelry for retail people that Cornelius knew, but eventually we took part in some shows that had to do with arts and crafts, and Upstate New York was a good one,” explains Cornelis Hollander’s wife Crista Hollander. “We were selected to take part in the JA New York Show, a high-end jewelry show. That was a big deal.”

Crista Hollander, executive administrator at Cornelis Hollander Designs in Scottsdale. (Photo provided by Cornelis Hollander Designs)

The JA New York Show led to wholesale opportunities for Cornelis Hollander Designs to sell their product in stores. Concurrent with the brand’s expansion, Cornelis Hollander Designs was also gaining attention from competition awards and accolades. 

“I think the first one that he entered, his boss had given him the form,” Walter Hollander says. “He was working for a jeweler in Arizona who told him to create something for their company, and he did. And then he also made something for himself in his garage. He won first place for the company ring he made for his work. And then he won the grand prize for his own design that he made for his company.” 

In 1991 — just seven years after Cornelis Hollander Designs was born — the business was incorporated. “Nothing really changed,” Crista Hollander says. “We still kept the same model of operating, but it was a bit better to be incorporated. And we made everything on the premises here —and we still do — except now we’re a little different because we’re retail. We started doing retail in ‘98 when we took over this gallery and eventually expanded, doubling the size of it.”

Since establishing the brick-and-mortar in Scottsdale, Cornelis Hollander Designs has not only become a household name in Arizona, it’s a brand known and sought after worldwide. In fact, it’s not uncommon for people to specifically come to Scottsdale from around the nation and globe based on a specific jewelry collection or piece they’ve spotted, according to Tina Milutinovics, who joined Cornelis Hollander Designs in 2018.

“When I started here. I heard stories from clients saying, ‘Oh my gosh, I saw an ad and I’ve just been saving for this [piece] to purchase for many years. I’ve had it with me for 10 years or 15 years,’” she says. “And I’ll have clients that will fly in just for a certain jewelry item. And I can relate. Even though I’ve been doing this for nearly 30 years now, I was just drawn to these designs.”

According to Walter Hollander, Crista Hollander and Milutinovics, part of what attracts clients to Cornelis Hollander Designs jewelry is its unique, contemporary

Walter Hollander, owner of Cornelis Hollander Designs (Photo provided by Cornelis Hollander Designs)


Walter Hollander, who has continued his father’s legacy after his passing in 2018, says much of his inspiration for design comes from his passion and appreciation for architecture and interior design. 

“What I seem to really like — and at least this last year what I’ve been exploring and trying to make — are things that are a little bit off-center,” Walter Hollander says. “This gives what would be a more ordinary design, an extremely unique look. A lot of the pieces that I am most excited about are the ones that were made incorporating asymmetry.”

Ultimately, Walter Hollander notes, Cornelis Hollander Designs offers a range of different styles and they strive to meet diverse price points as well. “I try to make our product accessible for everybody,” he says.” It’s not just for the people with multi-million dollar homes; it’s for everybody. We try to make things fit the budget of the person who loves it.”

But it’s not only buyers who are attracted to a place where they can customize a beautiful piece of jewelry that also accommodates their budget. Part of what makes this 40th anniversary memorable and special is the relationships that Cornelis Hollander, Crista Hollander and Walter Hollander have cultivated over time. Not only with customers but also with people like Milutinovics.

“I’ve always been with contemporary designers. I’ve always been drawn to that,” Milutinovics says. “When I saw Cornelis’s work,  I was just always in awe of it. And everyone always asks when they come in, ‘Are you family? I say, ‘No, but I feel like I am.’”

Adds Crista Hollander. “We’re a small company and everybody works well together. We used to have more people in the workshop because we had the wholesale business which was much more piecework than it is now at the store. We don’t need that many people in the workshop. But when it was, we were just one big happy family. And now, we’re a smaller happy family.”