Today, I had the privilege of talking with the world's most talked designer Vram Minassian and his eponymous label VRAM JEWELLERY. Vram is very much tied to his own work, to his family, where he’s from and where he’s going, a family history that includes the birth of his first daughter, who inspired the Continuum line, and his own father’s career as a jeweller in Lebanon. For VRAM, jewellery design is a process that connects the wearer to a long tradition of the art form. Find out below from our conversation what's Vram up to :-).
PORTRAIT OF VRAM MINASSIAN
Jewellery Pursuer: Who's Vram and how did you start your eponymous label?
Vram Minassian: I’m Vram. I was born in Beirut, Lebanon. Educated in Paris and Los Angeles. My wife Sevane works alongside me in the studio. We have four kids ages 1-21 and a dog named Scarlett. I love playing tennis. And I’m fortunate to have been a professional artist for over 30 years. While most of my career was as a private label designer and manufacturer, in 2016 I launched VRAM with a three-part mission: to provide me with a personal creative outlet, to empower the wearers, and to expedite a renaissance for the medium at a time of enormous generational, cultural, and technological change. The launch came out of a presentation to Barneys New York where its buyers saw my first VRAM collection that I’d been working on privately for over a year. And the rest is history.
JP: Please talk us through your sculptural approach to your collection.
VM: The best way is to start at the beginning with the Echo. I keep a sketchbook by my bed to jot down ideas. And the Echo was one of those ideas at 3am one night in 2015. From there the ‘Moment 1’ collection blossomed as I elaborated on all of the ideas that were in that initial form. Spheres, spirals, shapes that collapse in on themselves and kinetic elements. I realized during the process that I was mapping orbits, gravitational fields, strands of DNA. Cosmic forces. The invisible building blocks of our universe.
VRAM ECHO YELLOW GOLD TSAVORITE GARNETS, FROM MOMENT 1 COLLECTION.
JP: What are your sources of inspiration?
VM: The reality is that inspiration often isn’t an epiphany or any one tidy story. I think that happens sometimes but in my experience it is usually accumulation. Synthesis. I’ve been a collector of modernist and maker art for my entire adult life. In the 2010s I owned a gallery representing ceramic artists, bench jewelers, etc... My studio is filled with sculptures and artifacts. And you get out what you put in. Which is why it doesn’t surprise me to dream up an Echo. For me its a magical moment, for someone else it might be neurological chemistry. Different words for the same thing.
JP: How do you source your materials and gemstones?
VM: I’ve been collecting gemstones for my entire career, so I’m fortunate now to have materials that may no longer be commercially available. I find myself increasingly ‘shopping’ from my own collection. For example, my Cosmos Atoll Earrings have 172 Brazilian Paraíba tourmalines that I bought in the early 1990s when the original mines were producing some of what is still the best material.
JP: What's your most recent collection about?
VM: Right now it is the third collection — or ‘Moment 3’ as I call it. It is a prehistoric geological collection. The central motif is called Chrona — which is rhythmic, asymmetrical, and eroded. My hope is that it prompts the viewer to think about the scale of time — and also to think a little bit differently about their relationship with jewelry.
VRAM OAK CHRONA CHANDELIER EARRINGS WITH PARAIBA TOURMALINES WHITE, PINK, BLUE SAPPHIRES, DIAMONDS, GARNETS
JP: How would you define the creative atmosphere of LA?
VM: I’m a proponent of Los Angeles as an idea. That’s one of the reasons I stayed after I got my degree from GIA and the reason that gradually my whole family joined me here. There is a strong tradition of jewelry making and a vibrant multicultural community of jewelers in downtown LA. A lot of very talented jewelers and designers are based here. That being said, I’m located 10 miles west of the jewelry district and my studio has always been insular by design. Partly due to the nature of the pieces that I produce and partly due to my creative process. It is a classic LA story where I’m getting the best of both worlds — proximity to culture and commerce, but plenty of space, air, and sunlight as well.
JP: Lastly, what did this pause teach you?
VM: Perspective. Sometimes we take our routines for granted — getting too caught up in planning what’s next or performing repetitive tasks. This spring our family wound up missing college, high school, and preschool graduations. But we also spent more quality time together. Walking in the neighborhood. Cooking. Dancing. Laughing. Connecting. Its a reminder not to go through life confusing ceremonies and other people’s expectations with what is actually meaningful.
VRAM OAK UMBALITE JEWELLERY WITH SOME OPULENT GEMSTONES, GARNET, SAPPHIRE AND MANY OTHER