The Foundation

After four generations of a successful business, the Jakob Bengel chain and jewellery factory had no successors. In the 1990s, it was suggested by various parties that a foundation be set up in order to erect a monument to the Oberstein jewellery industry, which had provided hundreds of thousands of people with wages and bread for over 130 years. On 17 October 2001, the Jakob Bengel Foundation was established by Mrs Christel Braun, the owner of the Jakob Bengel company and great-granddaughter of the company founder Jakob Bengel, and the factory building, including the machines and tools, was transferred to the foundation in 2001.

The foundation is managed by a three-member honorary board, Peter Wenzel (Chairman of the Board), Karl-Dieter Braun and Thomas Dierks. While the Board of Directors is responsible for the day-to-day management, the Foundation's Board of Trustees acts as a supervisory board and decision-making body for the strategic direction of the Foundation. Chaired by the Lord Mayor of Idar-Oberstein, the Board of Trustees, consisting of members of the city council, appoints the Foundation's Board of Directors and decides on the annual report and the annual budget.

Objectives of the foundation

The tasks of the foundation are:

  • To preserve the infrastructure and production facilities of Idar-Oberstein companies in order to process and sustainably shape historical knowledge about economic, social and technical developments from early industrialization to the reconstruction period after the Second World War, including the development up to the reunification of Germany.
  • To revitalize the infrastructure by imparting knowledge and skills using existing machines and tools. To promote committed and talented jewellery designers who are dedicated to jewellery making and design.
  • To preserve the memory of the Idar-Oberstein chain and costume jewelleryindustry and to highlight the lifetime achievements of the people associated with this work.

This task requires that the foundation both raises awareness of the history of jewellery production in Idar-Oberstein and actively preserves it. The aim is to process and sustainably shape historical knowledge about economic, social and technical developments from the period of early industrialization to the reunification of Germany. In particular, the production of costume jewellery, chains and metal goods is to be presented in an educational way and the knowledge of this passed on to future generations.

Archives, costume jewellery, pattern books and gallantry goods, some of which are still in the private possession of Idar-Oberstein factory owners or their heirs, are to be made accessible, preserved and presented in the Jakob Bengel industrial monument in the future. In this way, the foundation would like to help preserve the shared, identity-forming history of the town and pass it on to future generations.