The Art Of The Accessory, Vram Minassian

Couture Jewelry Designer Vram Minassian Discusses the Art of the Accessory

There is something magical about finding the right piece of jewelry. For someone who knows how important the proper accessory can be, they understand, oftentimes, it’s seen as a work of art, bearing the authenticity of one’s own expression.

Vram Minassian is based in Los Angeles and has been designing couture jewelry in California for over 30 years. By way of Beirut, Lebanon, and then Paris, Vram began his journey in the United States designing unique pieces for private clients and other brands; until about four years ago, when marriage and the birth of his daughter changed his life.

Now, he designs under his own name. Inspired by love, his daughter, and his passion for art, Vram’s celebrated line has gone from Barneys to Maxfield, paving the way for a whole new take on jewelry.

In Love Magazine recently spoke with the designer about what goes into bringing his creations to life.

Sari: Can you start by telling me a little bit more about your creations and your journey up to now?
Vram Minassian: Seeing it in pictures is one thing. It looks sculptural, very seamless, but you also have to look at them in person because the whole idea behind creating what I love is that it’s also very tactile. If you grab one of the pieces, they have scale to them. They have a fourth dimension in the sense that they almost look like they make sound. A lot of them have a kinetic aspect because they have movement and they are singular pieces of art in themselves. If you’re wearing it, it’s a piece of jewelry, but if you’re not wearing it, it looks like a mini piece of art. Right now, we’re about to launch our third collection. You can see in the transition of my work that it’s always going to be art-inspired. The different collections are always going to be evergreen.

The first collection came about in a dream at 3 a.m. Instead of waking up and having to remember what it looked like, I turned on the light of the iPhone and sketched it because I knew it was something very special. I didn’t want to remember details after the fact. So, I drew it right on the spot. That was the inception. Since then, it’s been a very exciting journey. And here we are.

Sari: What is the process you go through when it comes to designing the jewelry from its inception to bringing it to life?
VM: The process always starts with a sketch. It’s never looking at the whole piece. It’s always looking at part of something and then getting some kind of inspiration. The first one came about because I had just seen a show. The brain works in funny ways. My head and heart were full of joy and love, so the first thing I designed definitely [was inspired by that]. It also looked like a mirror image. It’s us looking at ourselves; it looks like continuity, that’s why the line is called Continuum. That’s how the inspiration starts. Because I started a family later in life, I was definitely very inspired by the idea of continuity. I find that not necessarily only in art, but you can see it in cellular life, in plant life. So, the inspiration for the second collection came from that. The second one is coming from something pre-historic. Inception can be a little something that triggers it and then from there it becomes a process of slowing it down. Because creative people always have the tendency to over-create, it’s a question of slowing down, editing and making sure that you’re not overdoing it, so that the core idea doesn’t get diluted. Editing is really important. Removing from design sometimes, not overdoing things is a process. That’s an exercise that I’ve done for the past 30-some years, is not to over-design. Make things simple and then make sure the actual work is powerful.

Sari: How different is it now that you’re creating for your own collection as opposed to when you were creating for private clients?
VM: It’s a lot harder and also a lot easier to create for yourself. It’s scarier. There’s no safety net; there are no parachutes. You’re just jumping. You’re the one being judged, so in that sense it’s a lot harder. It’s not somebody commissioning you to do something. There are no deadlines, so it’s also more freeing. That makes it easier because you can tell yourself, I want to do what I want to do, and this way I will attract what I want to be. But it’s constantly a yin and yang. When you’re doing it for somebody else, you just want to please that person, so you’re inspired by pleasing a friend or a client or an associate. That’s a very powerful energy. All of a sudden you find yourself being so creative because you’re trying to please them. Right now, I’m doing what I like to do and hopefully the universe is going to attract what I’m looking for.

Sari: What advice would you give to somebody who’s searching to find that perfect accessory? To find something that they really love?
VM: I’m a big, big advocate of body language. Whether it’s an accessory or anything else in life. We’re brainwashed with all kinds of advertising and status symbols, so it’s very hard to break into a market where it’s flooded with those messages. My work is for that unique client who’s a little bit outside of that box. They’re going to be a little bit adventurous and when they come in contact with it. It’s not a question of deciding logically if they like the accessory, or the piece of art, or the jewelry. All of a sudden you see a woman and they look taller, their lips pout; they stretch their necks when they’re trying on an earring. That’s when they’re connecting with my work. When that happens, it tells me it’s not a piece of jewelry or an accessory that’s going to end up spending time in the closet. It’s something that’s going to become that person’s weapon. Those are the type of things that I look for.

Sari: Is there any golden rule for people to follow when they’re seeking out the perfect piece?
VM: Make sure it doesn’t fit the budget. You should look at it and say, ‘this is something that I love.’ If you can afford it, great; if you can’t, it should be something that you strive to get in the future. That’s the piece that’s meant for you.

Sari: Do you see any particular celebrity right now who always seems to know how to accessorize right?
Lady Gaga. Because she wears her emotions; you can see her personality.

Sari: Tell me about your third collection and what we can expect to see from you in the future?
VM: Creatively, it’s an exciting period. My work is not mainstream. So, the person who’s going to understand it has to be a little bit sophisticated. It is not a status symbol, because it’s still new. In the third collection, it’s unisex. The women and men experiencing and exploring with my pieces have to be on the edgy side. They have to be strong. They have to be a little bit bold; maybe avant-garde. They have to be leaders. They don’t have to care what somebody else is thinking. A lot of the pieces are worn multiple different ways. The people that get it, the expression that you get from them is that they’re blown away.

Sari Cohen