Bridal / Industry

Angela Karaguezian On Kirk Kara’s History, New Collection

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Kirk Kara is a family business with origins dating back to 1890, when grandfather of company founder Kirk Karaguezian opened a small workshop in Armenia to showcase his hand-engraved jewelry.

After he was tragically killed in the 1915 Armenian genocide, his son, Artin—Kirk’s father—escaped to Beirut and carried on the jewelry business. Fast-forward to the 1970s: A young Kirk works alongside his father and opens a business that would be twice destroyed by civil war.

After coming to America in the 1980s with his family of four, Kirk brought the business into what many of us know Kirk Kara as today—a reliable, beloved family jeweler that has evolved over the years but maintained its core design principles through the generations.

Speaking of generations—at the beginning of 2021, Angela Karaguezian, who has long worked with her father, took over as CEO of Kirk Kara, while Kirk transitioned to chairman of the board for the company.

The brand continues to grow and adapt, offering new collections along with the signature Kirk Kara style so many have come to know and love. Below, the next generation of the family brand, Angela Karaguezian, talks about its latest collection, history, and what’s next.

Kirk Kara paisley engagement ring
Paisley swirl engagement ring in 14k rose gold with diamonds, $1,910 (setting only)

Can you describe a little more the inspiration behind this latest collection, Rayana? Where did its name come from? 

This brand-new collection is inspired by vintage silk patterns and eternity signs. Swirly, romantic, and beautifully detailed, each ring tells the age-old story of eternal love.

Rayana is the union of two different but complementary wells of inspiration. The first is the Armenian eternity sign, also known as arevakhach. Resembling a wheel, this sunlike symbol represents the idea of everlasting celestial life. Hints of the eternity wheel are present throughout the collection, symbolizing our family’s Armenian roots, the idea of eternal existence, and the promised permanence of true love.

Rayana also embraces the idea of perpetual life with a nod to my grandfather’s silk-manufacturing roots. He was a renowned silk manufacturer in Beirut. His beautiful fabrics shared one common thread: a classic paisley design.

When it comes to Kirk Kara, our designs are always a family affair, one that transcends both generations and time. Rayana is a lovely way to weave in our work and keep our legacy alive.

Kirk Kara engagement set
Milgrain halo engagement ring in 18k white gold with diamonds, $1,570 (setting only); Paisley wedding band in 14k white gold with diamonds, $1,150

Do you have a favorite piece from the new collection? I love the bezel-set ring styled with the heart wedding band [shown above]!  

I love the Rayana K581R55 and K581Y-B set as well! This was the first and original creation from the new collection, as it features the eternity wheel and paisley textiles, while the heart in the wedding band represents the promise and permanence of true love.

How has the pandemic been for business? What have you had to do differently, and what has worked for you? 

For four generations in the fine jewelry industry, the Karaguezians have been resilient and adapted to change—the pandemic is no different. We were faced with the challenge of turning uncertainty into opportunity to meet our customers’ needs. Since everyone and everything turned to digital, we saw an even further shift toward open communication and authenticity in brand marketing. Therefore, we focused our goal on visual storytelling to transform our brand’s digital journey. In the spring of this year, we created an abundance of high-quality video content that has increased brand awareness and boosted traffic to our partner websites and social media.

Kirk Kara Rayana wedding band
Paisley swirl band in 14k rose and white gold with diamonds, $3,910

Have you noticed any changes in consumer demand from before versus during the pandemic? Do you foresee any permanent or long-lasting trends to endure? 

Yes, we did feel the change in consumer demand. With the restrictions on travel, restaurants, and social gatherings, our customers had more disposable income than usual, and that meant more spending on engagement rings and wedding bands with our retail partners.

We believe the digital trend is here to stay. As consumer expectations continue to change, we have our fingers on the pulse of what brides and grooms are thinking and feeling so we can improve the experiences that will attract and retain them. Delivering a great online, in-person, and hybrid experience to attract and retain loyal customers is our continued goal with our retail partners.

As the new CEO of Kirk Kara, you’re the next generation in your family to be at the helm of business—what has the journey been like since you began working with your father? How has Kirk Kara changed and adapted over the years? 

Seventeen years of experience with our family brand and the fine jewelry industry has further strengthened my determination for carrying on the Kirk Kara legacy. The journey has been a true blessing, and I am honored to take on the helm of the business and keep our long heritage alive.

Since 1890, when my great-grandfather opened a small workshop showcasing his hand-engraved jewelry, the Karaguezians have adapted and changed to lead with creativity, quality, and meticulous attention to detail in every ring we handcraft.

Kirk Kara paisley swirl engagement ring
Paisley swirl engagement ring in 18k yellow gold with diamonds, $2,660 (setting only)

What are your plans for the next few years, and what do you hope to see happen in our industry, pandemic or not?

Whether we are in the pandemic or not, it would be amazing to see our industry reshape itself with new technology, such as artificial intelligence and augmented/virtual reality, to enhance the customer’s shopping experience. The increased speed at which digital is changing business is so exciting!

To attract and retain digital savvy consumers, our plan is to continue to provide effective tools and programs for our retail partners to transform the consumer’s digital journey and allow for the best experience of the Kirk Kara brand.

Top: Kirk Kara CEO Angela Karaguezian

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By: Brittany Siminitz

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