These oceanic eye-poppers—which won two 2010 Couture Design Awards in June—were launched by Arman Sarkisyan, an L.A.–based designer and native of Armenia. “Where I’m coming from, there’s no ocean. The whole idea of conquistadores and pirates…it’s like a dream for me,” says Arman, who built one previous pair of equally elaborate nautical earrings. It was in Armenia at age 12 that he learned his craft while working with his father, Hamlet. (“He’s the master jeweler,” says Arman. “He’s been doing jewelry for 52 years.”) Decades later, the two are still side by side in the studio: “I will do some pieces, he will do some, and then we’ll just combine all together.” Meanwhile, Arman’s wife is the only woman who’s worn these strictly-for-show boats: “Everything else is for sale. Not my ships!” So are there any more sea-themed designs on the horizon? Arman laughs. “I’m going to make the whole fleet!”
The North Star
“That symbolizes a compass,” says Arman, pointing out the pavé-studded post. “It’s a rose-cut diamond in the middle.”
The vessel stays afloat on a combination of materials: “The cup is 22k gold and the lacework is oxidized silver” (the designer’s signature metals). The “ocean” is made of lapis.
“Those are black diamonds. And the ship body is all white diamonds.” As for the total carat weight, well, it’s not so important to the artist: “It’s more like a painting. You just put the diamonds wherever.”
All Hands on Deck
The scrollwork is all hand-cut. Arman and his father make a pattern, “and it goes back and forth and back and forth until we get it right.”