JCK Asks…Alishan



Musing on living in a material world

Some designers are devoted to diamonds. Others mix and match a rainbow’s spectrum of colored stones. Still more are die-hard goldsmiths. Alishan Halebian, however, is tougher to characterize. His jewelry incorporates such materials as platinum, gold, sterling silver, ancient glass, and ebony wood. He’s not fickle; he’s simply looking to test his, ahem, mettle. “I think of my ­jewelry as a fusion of materials, color, texture, form—therefore when I embrace new material, I welcome the challenge,” says the Armenia-born, California-based Halebian. “Different characteristics of material bring a new approach to design. It brings new ideas and makes me think.” Take his wedding rings: exquisitely ornamental creations in colorless diamonds and 18k gold. Then look at his Edge line—contemporary tribal-inspired pieces in black patina sterling silver with accents of yellow gold and unpolished stones. And that’s just the beginning. His full range of talents (and styles) will be on display at JCK Las Vegas.

Alishan palladium and pearl necklace; 18k gold, silver, and diamond earrings

Archuk the cat

Age: 60

Number of years in the biz: 37

Number of employees you oversee: 4

Family and pets: Married to my wife and business ­partner, Lydia; have two amazing sons, Shaunt and ­Shahen, and a black cat, Archuk.

Describe your personal style: Anything but simple

First piece you ever designed: Large brooch in 18k with colorful gemstones

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The single piece of jewelry you’re most proud of: ­Earrings I made for Lydia for her birthday. I was short on material and had just a couple of hours. As soon as she wore the earrings, a retail customer bought it out of her ears.

Best piece of advice you ever received: The advice that I get from my best and harshest critic, my wife, Lydia

Worst piece of advice: “If you make things like ­others make, I will buy it from you.” —Retail store owner; will stay anonymous

First job ever: Courier for a newspaper in Armenia; it was a summer job.

How did you start designing jewelry? I was inspired by German and Swiss designers, the way they approached jewelry as an art form.

If you weren’t designing jewelry, what would you be doing? Anything, as long as from idea to finished result is my own creation.

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Mmm…dark chocolate!

Jewelry you are wearing right now: Enameled small charm bead necklace; a gift from a friend 42 years ago and my good luck charm.

Five items on your desk right now: Sketchbook, bunch of gemstones, bunch of unfinished pieces, cappuccino, and chocolate biscotti

Five songs on your playlist: “For Myself,” Nina Simone; “Somebody That I Used to Know,” Gotye; “La Bien Paga,” Bebo & Sigala; “La Bohème,” Charles Aznavour; “Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum,” Bob Dylan

Exercise regimen: Talk more about it than actually do it

What did you have for breakfast? Cappuccino I made from freshly ground coffee and toast with almond butter

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Guilty pleasure: Dark chocolate

Drink (daytime/evening): I usually drink red wine in the evening; cappuccino is for the morning.

How does Southern California influence and inspire you? Because California is such a multicultural mix, it feels like I am not only living in the USA, but among the people of the world. It is where I feel at home as an American and as an Armenian. California is where chaos exists in an orderly manner.

First website you check every day (not your own!): iTunes for NPR news following with the “Morning Becomes Eclectic” music program on KCRW

Scent: Lavender, vanilla

How do you unwind? Cooking, painting, gardening, in the meantime listening to music

Superstitious? Of course—without it, the world would be two-dimensional.

Preferred news source: NPR and multiple other sources

Main means of transportation: Car (it is California)

Favorite movie: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Who would play you in your life story? Robert De Niro

Personal motto: “Be curious, be inspired, have an open mind.”

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