The Eglinton Way BIA’s Sheliza Esmail spent a few minutes with Varouj Tabakian – world renowned jeweller and genuine nice guy – who has humbly called The Eglinton Way his home for 38 years. He’s a professional goldsmith and Jewellery designer, who is a proud member of The Canadian Jeweller’s Association, Jewellers Vigilance of Canada, American Gem Trade Association, The Armenian Jewellery Association and the 24K Club.
The Eglinton Way BIA: Varrouj, thank you for sitting down with us! Tell us about a day in the life of a jewellery designer?
Varouj: A regular day is a mixture of meeting with clients, working on ongoing projects and designing jewellery pieces.
The Eglinton Way BIA: We know that you’re quite well known outside of this neighbourhood. What is the furthest destination a client has come from?
Varouj: While most of my clients are based in Toronto and the GTA, due the many exhibitions over the years, I am honoured to have clients throughout Canada, California, New York, and as far away as Japan, Australia and Hawaii. Many clients have heard of me through referrals or found me online. For instance, I’m currently working on a project for someone on Winnipeg who I’ve never met before, but heard about me through a family member.
The Eglinton Way BIA: What is your favorite type of jewellery to create?
Varouj: It is the quality and lifetime of memories that is carried in jewellery that I look at when making a piece. The design starts with personal preference and the type of occasion. It’s really about listening to people; hearing them talk about themselves and their relationships that give me clues, a small picture into their lives. Getting to know a person sets the ground work for creating something that they would like and cherish.”
Varouj brings two rings to the counter that he recently worked on, an engagement ring and wedding band that belonged to a young lady’s grandmother and mother. They were given to the young lady, but they were very worn and beyond repair
Varouj: I was inspired by the sentimental value and family history of the rings and suggested we re-make the rings using the existing diamonds. I made them heavier and added a slight modern touch to better suit the young client. She was absolutely delighted! To me, engagement rings are the beginning of someone’s story with another person. Their excitement and anticipation of the future starts with this ring and that drives my passion and creativity.
The Eglinton Way BIA: Where did you learn your craft?
Varouj: I began learning my trade in Beirut at the age of 14, and moved to Zimbabwe at 16 to become a jewellery apprentice. I spent six months just watching and listening to the jewelers work before being introduced to the tools and technicalities. I worked with Swiss, Italian, and German craftsman who I refer to as ‘the masters’.
The Eglinton Way BIA: This October, you’ll celebrate 39 years on The Eglinton Way. How has your business changed over this time?
Varouj: Every day has a new challenge and you learn from every person you meet and item you design. My business has always been directly with people: I listen to what they want and design it. Technology has not changed much. More clients connect with me over e-mail, but the process is still the same.