John Chakardemian, Yeprem Jewelry’s managing director, is no stranger to innovative, imaginative jewelry. His family’s company is known for gracing the famous fingertips of celebrity greats such as Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez, Adriana Lima, Oprah, Madonna, and Katy Perry.
Stunning, eye-catching, remarkable, and memorable. These are just a few words to describe the beauty and unique quality of the Yeprem pieces. The look of the jewelry often resembles that of a twirling vine, jewels entangled elegantly around a hand.
Stones of Success
John says of the jewelry, “We like to offer the market something new, because everyone has colored pearls and diamonds.” He states how they must keep in mind not only design but how to properly engineer the pieces in an executable way.
“New engineering, avant garde, not something trending now” – these are all ways the family businessman says Yeprem stays ahead of the curve. “We develop a new trend and develop it constantly in a very short time,” he says. He describes the jewelry as “cultural…art pieces with a lot of soul”; something the Chakardemians like to treat as “very precious.”
John states that pieces have been specially requested before and that they willingly customize pieces for customers. Of his more famous clientele, he says, “The first time they try it, they are not as confident [wearing it], but after…events they start getting compliments and we get an email or compliment.” Many customers are returners. “They want to wear a dress [to an event] with very special jewelry that makes [their look] outstanding,” he says.
Accordingly, a lot of prior planning, testing, redesigning, and creative thinking goes into the process of each piece. John says of designing, “We’ll start from scratch or [start] a second time [until] a piece is comfortable.” Initial production begins by designing over the computer, then moves onto testing with dummies. Next, John says the jewelry is tested on people. “We test it on each other…We have people whose job is just to try on the jewelry and they are able to give feedback about it.” Once the jewelry goes to market, the company continues to ask for feedback from clients, whether positive or negative commentary is given. “Most of the time we consider [their feedback]…It’s a very free and liberal brand; you don’t have rules on how to wear it, you can wear it on anything you want; upwards or downwards, anything that will make you feel confident.” Sometimes, for example, he says people want to switch the sides of their ears that they wear the jewelry.
Pieces can take anywhere from two days to two months to make, depending on its type, according to John. Made of 18 karat gold and VS Plus diamonds, which he says “are for clarity and color,” the level of pricing begins at around $2,000 and moves up to $500,000 a piece.
John says there’s a major expansion plan in the works in the next year. “We’re definitely looking in the top stores in the U.S…We’re looking at other countries as well. It’s something new that’s getting very positive feedback and so far it’s been successful in several markets we’ve penetrated.”
So far, those markets include trunk shows at Tyson’s and Bergdorf Goodman in New York, as well as showings in San Francisco, Beverly Hills, Scottsdale, and Florida.
“I do multiple visits per year to the U.S. and there are stores that I currently have a connection to – I visit regularly to do shows there,” states John.
It seems that business expansion, though, is not the reason the Yeprem name thrives. A genuine love for the jewelry and the freedom to create drives John in what he does. He always has a new “favorite” design.
“To be very honest,” John says, “every time there’s a piece that gets a lot of success or attachment from us…I consider it my favorite piece. When a new piece comes out, we say it’s our favorite. The pieces manage to surprise us.”
And so the process continues.
The overseas brand Yeprem was founded by John Chakardemian’s father 50 years ago. The youngest of three, John is responsible for the business side of Yeprem, working with the brand’s commercial aspects and international trade. His brother, Loutfic, is in charge of design and running the Lebanese factory, while his sister Virna is the company’s creative director.