Boghossian family

Heritage Corner

” 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

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The Boghossian name is rich with more than a hundred years of deep rooted knowledge in diamonds, precious stones and fine jewellery.

But this distant ancestor “disappears” from the pages of family history when the Turks begin their plan of extermination in the 1915s. Many of the family members survive the killings by fleeing to the Syrian province. Some even flew the world to settle in the US, like many Armenians, as well as Lebanese.

1900

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My great-grandfather Oaness was a born in Mardine (37°19′0″N 40°44′16″E) and grew up in this town, a town on the border of Anatolia (Turkey) on the border with Syria and Iraq.

Mardine

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

The Boghossian family is omnipresent and spread all around the world, mastering the art of jewelry making. The identity of the family has been enriched with a unique journey from the Middle East to Europe, for first stop as Armenia.

It all started in Armenia where my great great grandfather, the first generation of the Boghossian, began manufacturing gold jewelries and accessories in his small Atelier in “Mardin”. It is a small village in Armenia, owned by the Ottoman Empire at that time, which belonged to the Armenians and was reclaimed by Turkey after the genocide.

1915

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In 1915, “ Mardin“ was overseen by the army of the Ottoman Empire. Ohannes Boghossian was 14 when he was deported to Aleppo. 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.

The Promise

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The Boghossian name was used in a recent movie The Promise – Set during the last days of the Ottoman Empire, The Promise follows a love triangle between Michael Boghossian, a brilliant medical student, the beautiful and sophisticated Ana Khesarian, and Chris Myers – a renowned American journalist based in Paris.

The movie was criticized: The main characters and their storyline is fiction. The major political events going on around these characters are largely factual. This includes the rounding up of Christian Armenians, which started the Armenian Genocide in April 1915. Whole villages were subsequently wiped out, as Mikael learns was the fate of his own village in the movie.

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10 May 1920

Ohannes marries Sadika Rabbath. They spent their honeymoon at home without going out for ten days.

1944

THE GOLDEN YEARS

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The Beirut workshop, opened in 1994, remained a small SME, specialized in the wholesale of diamonds and colored stones, then the manufacture of jewelry with the help of a dozen skilled craftsmen. A strong community of Armenian jewellers followed the same path and installed in now we call “Bourj Hammoud”. Bourj Hammoud district was specialised in creating jewelries for the other gold market in the regions as well as the omnipresence of skilled craftsman , distributing their goods across the world.  At that time, engagement rings were at best for rapid profits…

1954

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A few years later, Ohannes leaves this craftsman to found his own workshop in Aleppo, which will remain in office until 1968. In the process, he gets married and has nine children: four boys and five girls, including Robert, the father of Jean, Mary, Albert and Christine Boghossian.

1968

Beiruti: UNCOVERED TREASURES

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In 1968, however, Ohannes decided to settle in the souk of jewelers of Beirut. “Lebanon was more open to the West than Syria, which at the time was in a period of political turmoil. Lebanon had also become a hub for African diamonds, which passed through Beirut, before being sent to Antwerp. Ohannes also founded a workshop that specializes in jewelry creation. Laurent was the first to decide to join the hard business of goldsmithing and later decided to move to Beirut with his wife Viviane, where business in the jewelry market was better. “Beirut was probably the most magical place in the world to spend its adolescence,” he recalls.

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Laurent was establishing his small atelier and became an icon in the Armenian jewellers and traders as a trusted workaholic.

Jeweler and artist, Laurent Boghossian as well as his brother Jean were born in Aleppo, in 1949, but grew up in Lebanon, where he arrived at the age of twelve. Jeddo “Laurent“ then later my father were so called middle man: They were basically buying melee diamonds and gemstones from abroad and selling it in the souks to other jewellers in Lebanon, in both Christian and Muslims districts. My Uncle Roger, Gerard’s brother, decided to shift into copying designs from European brands and selling them in Beirut. It became the birth of counterfeit jewelries.

PARIS OF THE MIDDLE EAST

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Business was flourishing: Tourism was booming, visitors came to enjoy the beach at summers and slopes for winter. Jewelry brands opened their stores welcoming clients from all around the Middle East. “In the so called “Paris of the Middle East” at that time, jewelry was at the heat of every Beiruti weddings. Fashion and Jewelry was greatly appreciated by the Haute Society cocktail parties of “Achrafieh”.

1971

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Inauguration of the Medico-social center Ohannes Boghossian in the heart of Bourj Hammoud district in Lebanon.

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1975

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THE DIAMOND YEARS

In the 1975s, a Lebanese Civil War hit the country and damages were endangering the city’s beauty. Almost half of the Lebanese community flew out of the country, following their path to Europe, America, Africa and later Asia. Africa became a big pole for businesses in the Energy and Construction fields. America for bankers, doctors and engineers.

Families flew to Europe for their European culture influence during the years of the French occupation/colonial support. Among those shifting to Europe, my father was first to decide to move.

A l’Européenne

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My father Gerard Boghossian and his wife, my mom Lyna Mecattaf Boghossian’s path eventually led the family to Antwerp in a Belgium. There, Gerard began expanding the business to Europe and the Middle East. Antwerp was at the time, known for their diamonds skills in trading, cutting and sales. Antwerp was at 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.

1990

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The Lebanese Civil War eventually ended and some Beiruti came back to their roots. We were born around that time, us 3, John Patrick and Stephane, right in the middle of that important decision. Lebanon was indeed calling: My parents decided to come back live in Beirut, offering the door for us to a better education, in Jamhour, raised around a more familiar environment. Business was back to full speed: My father travelled back and forth every 2 weeks in Antwerp developing a strong reseau of Diamond traders around the world.

1992

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Launched in the 1992, first in Armenia, then in Lebanon and Syria, the Boghossian Foundation has many humanitarian actions to its credit and, for fifteen years, actions properly humanistic and cultural. Thus, one of the best technical schools in Lebanon, the Mesrobian school in Bourj Hammoud, owes its existence. Since 2009, Jean Boghossian has put the soft pedal on his professional activity to devote himself to the Boghossian Foundation, the philanthropic initiative of his family, of which he is the president. This foundation, which has an annual operating budget of around one million euros, has been operating in Armenia since the earthquake of 1988. It supports many projects such as the rehabilitation of Gyumri Park, near the city of Yerevan, for $ 1.6 million. In Lebanon, it provides artistic sponsorship missions. It started its activity at the initiative of Robert Boghossian, father of Jean and Albert, with the construction of a theater in Bourj Hammoud, in 1985, for an investment of 600 000 dollars.

2008 Success Overseas

Boghossian Jewels

In 2008, Jean Boghossian created his jewelry brand Bogh-Art, now rebranded to Boghossian Jewels with his 2 sons Roberto and Ralph. They mastered the art of Inlay coloured stones and diamonds and slowly conquering the world of shines. “Bogh-Art is looking for technical prowess, especially in the use of high-tech materials. Our brand is sophisticated and refined. “

Bogarz and the family collection

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After spending many years abroad, Peter Boghossian settled in the middle of Los Angeles, USA and developed a small atelier that later expanded to a fully functional production site for family jewelry offering a wide range of customised jewelry for big suppliers such as Zales, eBay and Amazon.

Lebanese jewelers

Not all Boghossian family member have expanded worldwide.

2010

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Opened to the public since 2010, Villa Empain serves as an exhibition venue, particularly for artists from the Middle East. Each year, the foundation acquires between 10 and 20 works of art. “It’s not an investment for me.

2000

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In the double life, Gerard was selling melee diamonds to the Armenians abroad and in Lebanon. Big jewellers and diamonds brands such as Yeseyan, Mouzannar, etc… were supplied by Gerard Boghossian. The Boghossian Laurent and Fils company developed a strong réseau of friends and family that made jewelry gifting a strong argument to flourish the brand and bring the birth of the “Hotel Alexandre street” store. Later on, Gerard and Roger partnered to create Roger et Gerard Boghossian.

My father was buying diamonds from Indians high society, settled in India and having offices in Antwerp. Over the years of trading, Gerard developed close friends in which he was invited to all big Mumbai and Jaipur’s families weddings. Gerard and his wife were invited many times for important 5-day ritual long weddings and ceremonies, engaging his creativity of Jewelry Designer.

To this day, Gerard still practices the diamond trading between two offices, Antwerp and Beirut. He also offer bespoke engagement rings sourcing from the best selection of diamonds. Melee diamonds in particular is his forte. He also designed many jewelries that was worn by my mother Lyna’s family.

Gérard did came back to his origins and followed the path of old dusty archives to reach his great grandfather’s old house. A memoir was written by the family to commemorate the family.

Present: trio del mio

Whereas the first generation involved in the gold business was very much in tune with the world of jewellery at the time, today’s 6th generations has 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.

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