Joan Polsdorfer was born in Chicago in March 1904 and grew up in Newton, Massachusetts as Josephine Hazel Hurst. She graduated from Smith College and began a career in advertising with J. Walter Thompson. She had one brother, Scott, who lived in Florida.
She moved to the San Francisco Bay Area where she married James Polsdorfer in 1935 and had her only son, Ricker, in 1943 when living in Marin County. Motherhood kept her home, and, since her husband was an alcoholic and unable to hold a steady job, she began designing and making sterling jewelry in a home workshop. Divorce followed in 1945 and she never remarried. During the war she became the first American jewelry designer and maker for Georg Jensen USA, New York, because they were having trouble getting goods across the Atlantic. No one was supposed to know that her jewelry was not from Denmark, so she adopted the trade name of JoPol and signed her work with it.
Joan also sold her work through such retail outlets as G.T. Marsh, I. Magnin, Gumps and Bullock's Wilshire, but she always stayed in favor with Jensen, even after the war ended.
Later in life she found herself unable to raise her prices to keep up with inflation, so, always bold, bright, hardworking and inventive, she mortgaged her house in Ross, California and bought an apartment building in San Francisco, acquired sweat equity a la Nickerson, traded up a few times and made a handsome profit, which she left to her grandchildren.
She lived her declining years in the home of her son in Aptos, California surrounded by his family including her two granddaughters and died of a stroke in 1982 at the age of 78.
information contributed by Ricker Polsdorfer