Whether they saw his work on a cruise they took or in a People magazine story about a television star’s 15-carat engagement ring, people knew when a piece of jewelry bore the distinctive characteristics of an Effy Hematian design.
Hematian, who propelled his jewelry brand Effy to legendary status among customers, died April 30. He was 79.
“Although we will all mourn this profound loss forever, we choose to celebrate all Effy has brought into our lives,” a family statement shared with JCK said. “Effy was a loving husband, father, grandfather, visionary, and community leader.
“His honesty and humility only illuminate the industry-defining change he brought to the jewelry world,” the statement said. “Through his unwavering belief in God, he demonstrated that we can live a life of passion and purpose, leaving the world better than he found it.”
The jewelry industry lauded Hematian on social media for his big personality and talent to match.
“He is iconic,” says Tiffany Bayley, owner of Avalon Park Jewelers in Orlando, Fla. “I worked with the Effy brand for years. When I say ‘iconic,’ it’s because he is the patriarch of the jewelry family in Great Neck, N.Y., and beyond. No matter where you travel to, no matter what cruise you take or what continent you’re on, you’re going to see and know those four letters. His designs are that easily recognizable.”
An electrical engineer by trade, Fatollah “Effy” Hematian emigrated from Iran in 1978 as the country was going through political turbulence. He started selling jewelry when he arrived in New York with his wife and son. Hematian founded his company in 1979 and served as its CEO for years; its current president is his son, Benny Hematian.
Although Effy jewelry was sold in stores, the company may be best known for producing its entire line in the United States and for having more than 100 retail locations aboard cruise ships and in cruise ports from Alaska to the Caribbean. Hematian told the media he preferred the cruise ship outlets to landlocked retail stores because more people would see his work. World travelers became lifelong fans as many bought his jewelry as a souvenir of their trips.
As the company’s designer, Hematian was dubbed “the king of color,” using colored gemstones throughout Effy’s many collections. He also frequently used his favorite animal, the panther, in jewelry pieces, calling it his “lifelong muse.”
“His eye for detail and quality and his exceptional way of using colorful gemstones…gained a following among consumers and retailers alike,” Benny Hematian told JCK in 2019. “Effy is still a family business, and I grew up learning everything from my father.… My father has a passion that is contagious, and I am proud to be a part of that living legacy.”
That same year, Effy Hematian spoke with JCK about the inspiration for his life and business. “Everything we do at Effy begins with family,” he said. “We run our business as a family, and we think of our employees and customers as a part of our extended family. When I design jewelry, I keep this in mind. I want to create things that appeal to the wide range of people in our family, women and men of all ages, and even kids. It’s my way of making everyone happy and helping them celebrate the important moments in their lives.”
Top: Effy CEO Effy Hematian died April 30 at age 79, leaving behind a jewelry legacy and a reputation as an icon among industry leaders and designers. (Photos courtesy of the Hematian family)
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