Bernard D’Ascenzo, Sr., 82, a highly respected jeweler on Sansom Street, in Philadelphia, for over 50 years, died of cancer at Dunwoody Village in Newtown Square, Pa., on Monday, October 19th.
Bernard came to the United States in 1945 from Roseto degli Abruzzi, Italy. He did not originally set out to become a jeweler. He attended a high school for architectural studies in Italy and came to Philadelphia to stay with relatives and continue his training. To earn money for college, he began designing jewelry for a family friend, a jeweler with a shop on Sansom Street, Philadelphia’s "Jeweler’s Row." Despite reservations about his lack of jewelry experience, he flourished and within a few years was designing and creating jewelry for many of the jewelers and retailers in the city.
In 1954, he opened his own shop on Sansom Street, Bernard D’Ascenzo Jewelers. He began to specialize in custom, hand-made platinum and gemstone jewelry. The pieces he created were beautiful heirloom quality works of art, and he took pride in every piece that was made at his bench.
In 2003, the Jewelers of America awarded Bernard the designation of Certified Master Bench Jeweler, the very highest level in its Bench Jeweler Certification program. D’Ascenzo is only the sixth jeweler in Pennsylvania – and the 106th in the nation – to receive the distinction.
Bernard was predeceased by his wife, Theresa, and his daughter, Juliana. He is survived by his sons Dominic and Bernard, Jr.; his sister Maria DeLeo; grandchildren Gina Masciantonio, and Nicholas and Alex D’Ascenzo; nephews Stephen and Joseph DeLeo; and nieces Linda Mierley and Nancy Sapper. He will be dearly missed by family and the many friends who loved him.
A viewing is scheduled from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Monday, October 26, at D’Anjolell Memorial Funeral Home at 2811 West Chester Pike; Bromall, PA 19008, and from 10:00 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. on Tuesday, October 27, before an 11 a.m. Funeral Mass at St. Bernadette of Lourdes Parish at 1035 Turner Avenue in Drexel Hill. Burial will be in St. Peter and Paul’s Cemetery.
Donations may be made to St. Bernadette of Lourdes Parish at 1035 Turner Avenue, Drexel Hill, PA 19026.