A couple who hand make jewelry were in town last week to display their one-of-a-kind pieces at the Exquisite Art Treasures Gallery on West Second Street.
Lydia Tutunjian and Alishan Halebian currently reside in Southern California but are originally from Armenia. They make handcrafted jewelry for men and woman.
Halebian said he turned to crafting jewelry because he was trying to find a way to provide for his family.
“I came here from Armenia in 1970 and I had never planned to do this. I was a young man and I had to support the family,” Halebian said. “I ended up in downtown (Las Angeles, Calif.). I was learning ceramic art. I already knew how to draw, but I didn’t know how to make, so I taught myself how to make. I thought I might go into architecture, but when I learned how to make the jewelry that was it. I’ve never had a dull moment since.”
Halebian also said some of his pieces have a Swiss and German inspiration.
“I discovered Swiss and German art,” he said. “I’m not Swiss or German, but I loved the art and I’ve pulled inspiration from many cultures.”
According to Halebian, every piece in his collection is made, by hand, in their California studio.
“No piece is outsourced,” he said. “We make everything in the studio."
Each piece is also a one-of-a-kind, though some may have similar elements, according to Helebian.
“No piece is exactly the same,” he said. “We do not mass production either. A few pieces, like a pair of earrings, may have a similar base, but the diamonds will always be different.”
According to Tutunjian, each stone is natural.
“We only use natural colors for all of our jewelry,” she said.
Halebian said he begins his process by drawing the design on paper.
“It goes on the paper and I usually don’t do a complete drawing, as long as I get the idea, it goes into prototype. Each piece has a different beginning. Some of the pieces are all hand fabrication. Some are caste and combined, but all of these pieces are done in our workshop from beginning to finish. We handle the whole process.”
Halebian said he would not let that process go, even if it meant losing money.
“Even if it wasn’t cost effective, I would not let that process go,” he said. “I love seeing the evolution.”
Tutunjian said she handles the business side of the jewelry.
“I joined the business after I had two kids,” she said. “I didn’t want to be in the corporate section anymore. I helped raise the kids and run the business. I also design with him and run the business, because it gives him more free time to make the jewelry. I love to design and see the final product and how people love it.”
Halebian said his favorite part of making his own jewelry is the freedom it gives him.
“I love the freedom,” he said. “I love being able to see the final piece and when someone buys a piece and loves it, it makes it even better.”