Garen Garibian

2nd Place - Enamel


The precision, craftsmanship, beauty and passion in the work of Garen Garibian’s winning second-place necklace in the Enamel Division speaks for itself. Garen left Armenia a few decades ago and moved to the United States. He had been a practicing maxillo facial surgeon there, and the skills and mastery he honed in that profession have served him well in the arts and jewelry world. He now does custom work for jewelers in the Los Angeles area as well as creating his own one-of-a-kind jewels.

Artist Interview:

Where did you get the title for this piece?
It reflects Christ’s love for all of us.

Who was your inspiration for this piece?
The works of Renaissance artist Carlo Crivelli.

What obstacles did you have to overcome in making this piece?
I had to work with the plate to make sure the enameling laid flat.

Will this piece inspire other pieces?
Yes! Definitely, I will do more miniature enamel pieces.

What did you feel when you heard?
I felt energized. Winning the Saul Bell Design Award makes me inspired. It boosts up my creative power. I feel so much better that people appreciate what I am doing.

Have you won other awards? If so, what?
I entered one other piece this year, and it was a finalist in the Gold/Platinum Division for the Saul Bell Design Award. This is the first time I have won in the Enamel Division. I was a winner of the 2016 Saul Bell Design Award in the Gold and Platinum division, and a finalist in 2017. And I have won the Accommodation Award in the International Pearl Competition.

Name a fact about yourself.
I like to compete. It makes me grow.

Describe yourself.
I’m a detail person. I don’t like resting. I never sleep in the daytime. I am hyper. If I am resting, I have to get up and walk or hike. I like sports. I compete in judo, and I am a coach as well.

Of all the arts and crafts why did you choose jewelry?
Jewelry combines wearable art and sculpture. Since my teenage years, I have loved jewelry and art. I started making pieces when I was around 25 years old.
When I came to the United States, I was working on getting my green card. At the same time, a friend was working in a jewelry store in Michigan. My friend was moving to California, so I took his place doing repairs and setting stones. That’s where it started.

What was the first thing you ever made?
I made a pinkie ring for myself.

Who do you think has been the strongest influence or inspiration on your work?
I admire so many people. But the American goldsmith Henry Dunay is my favorite. I love his work.

Do you have any advice for those starting out in the jewelry world?
Never give up and always try to improve your skills. Learning is a lifelong process. The more we know, the more we realize we don’t know.

What would you say you know now about living a happy and successful life that you didn’t know when you were 20?
Now I have kids that I didn’t have when I was 20. I love that part.

What do you want your legacy to be?
That I was a good person and that I made the world a little better place.

What do you want people to know about you and your art?
That I love what I do, and that my best pieces are yet to come.

What makes you passionate about metalsmithing/design?
Unlimited creativity.

What is the best advice you received?
Love what you do, and you don’t have to work anymore.

What did you study?
I graduated from art school in Armenia.

What is your favorite tool?
My hands!!!

What is the biggest change you have seen in the jewelry world since you have been around?
CAD is the biggest change I have seen, and laser welding has changed things as well.

What is your strongest metalsmithing skill?
Stone setting. That is how I started.

Describe your studio.
The coziness and the location are my favorite things about my studio. When I open my window, I can see a square in downtown LA. When I walk out, there are a lot of restaurants. The building, the James Oviatt Building, was built in 1920, and everything in the building is custom-made. It is a piece of art itself. I love being in this building. All of the materials and fixtures were shipped from France. People are always shooting movies in the lobby. It is very interesting. There is a lot of art on the walls of my office with no empty spaces.

What is your differentiator?
Diversity—I’ll do one thing and then the next piece will be totally different.

Interview by Marlene Richey