” Based on the records of our church, I would like my children, my grandchildren and their descendants to know that the Boghossian family is one of Mardine’s most important families. ” by Ohannes Boghossian
The Boghossian name is rich with more than a hundred years of deep-rooted knowledge in diamonds, precious stones, and fine jewelry.
The history of the family and its link with jewelry dates back to the Armenian genocide of 1915 but this date marked the beginning of the exile or wandering of the family from its hometown of Mardin to the Middle East region mainly Aleppo then Lebanon before a new departure to Europe and to the United States, for some.
My great-grandfather Ohannes was a born in Mardin (37°19′0″N 40°44′16″E) and grew up in this town. Mardin was a city in the old Ottoman Empire, in present-day Turkey but on the border with Syria.
Ohannes’ father, Raphael Hanna Boghossian married his mother, Catherine, who gave him nine children: Alexandre, Jalil, Hagop, Boghos, Ohannes, Pierre, and Elie. His sisters were called Nazliyeh and Victoria. Raphael was a jeweler, a job he inherited from his father, Hanna
It all started in the Ottoman Empire where my great great grandfather, the first generation of the Boghossian, began manufacturing gold jewelry and accessories in his small Atelier in “Mardin”. I am the 6th generation Boghossian with the family tree as followed: Hanna, Raphael, Ohannes, Laurent, Gerard and… me!
In 1915, “ Mardin“ was invaded and threatened by the army of the Ottoman Empire. Ohannes Boghossian was 24 (born in 1890) when he was deported to Aleppo. Ohannes, therefore, traveled along with other ethnic groups living in the Ottoman Empire, a displacement known as Safarbarlik and which would later be recognized as the Armenian Genocide of 1915. Before taking the road of exile, everyone took with him some pieces of jewelry and money, to cover the expenses of the journey. Syria became their home and later, their new atelier. In the Syrian city, the presence of a large Armenian community, long-established, allows some refugees to find clandestine help. “A jeweler craftsman takes it in apprenticeship.
10 May 1920: Aleppo
First, he decided to detach himself from the group of deportees by taking advantage of his only asset, a Turkish lira / magidi; then he takes a job in a cafe and finally, with a little luck and the solidarity of the Armenians, begins a job that he likes and that is in a jewelry workshop. Hard worker, he will combine 2 jobs day and night to develop and finally be able to be independent in a workshop on his own account. His first wish will be to finance and organize the repatriation of his family from Mardin to Aleppo.
After his marriage in 1920 to Sadika Rabbath, he broadened his activities and was notably a pioneer by carrying out transactions outside Syria (Beirut, Egypt) and by exploring new horizons and markets like that of Paris and Antwerp. In the process, he gets married and has nine children: four boys and five girls.
Also, they decided to leave Syria for Lebanon to settle there from 1949, aware of the necessary displacement of his big family to a country with more promises for Christians of the East.
1949: Beiruti: UNCOVERED TREASURES
In 1968, however, Ohannes decided to settle in the souk of jewelers of Beirut. Ohannes also founded a workshop that specializes in jewelry creation. From 1948, when the Boghossian family was still living in Aleppo, my grandfather Laurent was very interested in precious stones, more than the jewelry itself. He responds to the advice of his father Ohannes to join merchants who are family friends in what was then the precious stone market in Palestine. But his stay was shortened by the start of the unrest in the country and returned to Syria. However, this stay will be the confirmation of his real fondness for diamonds and he then decides to explore in turn the European markets for precious stones, notably that of Antwerp. He will continue on this path, rich in his experiences, and will broaden his skills and activities towards the emerging market of rough diamonds in Beirut. A pioneer in this particular field, he will quickly be recognized as a specialist in crude oil and will develop a lucrative and promising activity of supplying Africa and selling on the Beirut market and even that of Antwerp. Laurent was establishing his small atelier and became an icon in the Armenian jewelers and traders as a trusted workaholic.
PARIS OF THE MIDDLE EAST
The flourishing period of the 1950s until the start of the Lebanese civil war in 1975 will allow the Boghossian family, in general, to grow as much in the field of pure jewelry as in the trade of precious stones and also pearls, all at from Beirut. Under the leadership of Ohannes, my grandfather Laurent and his 4 brothers will enjoy a certain reputation based on know-how, creativity, and honesty.
Ohannes will also stand out for his philanthropy by enhancing the promise he made to himself during the dark years of the genocide: to provide help and support for medical care and education around him and people in his community. This will be done with the creation in 1971 of the Ohannes Boghossian Medico-Social Center in the Armenian district of Bourj Hammoud in the northern suburbs of Beirut, a project which will be followed by many others.
1975: Civil War in Lebanon
THE DIAMOND YEARS
The war will upset the balance and harmony of the family: the next generation will have to export itself, like its predecessors. The choice relates to Belgium, and more precisely the city of Antwerp, rich in its diamond center. The first party will be Jean Robert Boghossian, who records a certain success in this particular field, quickly relayed to Geneva by his brother Albert; today Jean’s sons ensure a good succession in Geneva and London and this branch of the family is at the origin of the Boghossian Foundation, based in Brussels, a real bridge between East and West and the magnificent lighthouse of the ‘Art in general.
On the side of my family, my father Gerard also took the road to Antwerp from the end of the 1980s: his entrepreneurial spirit, his certain knowledge, his perseverance and finally his loyalty will allow him to acquire a particularly brilliant situation on the Antwerp dimensional market. Antwerp was at the time, known for their diamonds skills in trading, cutting, and sales. Antwerp was at the heart of every transaction from rough found in Africa and Asia to transactions in American countries. Diamonds labs such as GIA and HRD were excelling diamond quality, Rapaport made a références for pricing diamonds.
2008 Success Overseas
Gerard Boghossian continues to trade in diamonds and precious stones between the Antwerp platform and Lebanon and the Middle East. It has long dominated this market, for individuals but especially for jewelers; today, through the company Boghossian & Boghossian.
Present: trio del mio
Whereas the first generation involved in the gold business was very much in tune with the world of jewelry at the time, today’s 6th generations have positioned themselves at its edge, surpassing the classic principles of jewelry design. While previous generations have mainly relied on traditional jewelry and the trade-in precious stones, the generation of my father and his cousins played the export card to other markets. The new generation to which I belong has positioned itself in a sector-specific to millennials: entrepreneurship and more explicitly the world of start-ups. The creation of Exjewel in 2019 and the launch of the platform in 2020 was for me the culmination of a path perhaps all marked but which led me in an obvious way towards the establishment of a new way of approaching this industry which is ours. Whereas the first generation involved in the gold business was very much in tune with the world of jewelry at the time, today’s 6th generations have positioned themselves at its edge, surpassing the classic principles of jewelry design.
Today, I, Stephane Boghossian, one of Gerard’s son have created ExJewel, a jewelry service that revisits the principle of jewelry.