Le Vian (Est. 1950-) While the LeVian family’s roots in jewelry crafting can be traced for more than two and a half millennia, the firm’s modern origin is credited to Abdulrahim Ephraim LeVian (1922-2000) who founded the Le Vian Company in the United States in 1950. (Note the family does not use a space in the spelling of their name as they do in the company’s.)
Abdulrahim was born in the ancient city of Mashad, Persia (now Iran) into a family whose roots go back to the 15th century and even further to the Levi tribe, one of the original 12 tribes of Israel.
By the 1700s, the family was a trusted jeweler to royalty and began to work with gems the conquering Persians plundered. In 1746, the Persian ruler, Nadir Shah asked the LeVians to guard his richest treasure, the Kooh-i-noor Diamond, which he found hidden in the turban of the Mogul emperor when he invaded India. The gem weighed 186 carats at the time. After losing the stone to the English a century later, the Kooh-i-noor was presented to Queen Victoria, who had it cut down to 108 carats. It now resides in the Tower of London among the Crown Jewels of England.
After 100 years of persecution during the 19th century, the LeVian family entered the 20th century producing jewels in the historic styles of the period. A 1920s Art Deco ring with a superb 4.5-ct. ruby is a one of the family’s prized possessions because it belonged to current CEO and designer Eddie LeVian’s grandmother. He says that the ring brought him into the family business.
When Abdulrahim came to America, he was already highly regarded worldwide for his exquisite work with turquoise and tanzanite. Often called, “the King of Turquoise” or “the Lord of Tanzanite” in the jewelry world during the 70s, 80s, and 90s, he guided the company until his death when Eddie took over the operation. The Le Vian brand was quickly recognized in America for the unusual jewel treatments it used. For example, the twisted rope technique, which uses thin strands of twisted gold set with small, round diamonds or other stones, quickly became popular with other designers.
In an article by Victoria Gomelsky that appeared in JCK in November 2016, Eddie added information about his family’s jewelry making heritage. He explained that his father became fascinated by single-source gems and began to import Persian turquoise in the 1970s before its source mine became extinct. His father also loved tanzanite.
According to the article, “In the 1980s, about a decade after the blue-violet gem was discovered in Tanzania, in the shadow of Mount Kilimanjaro, Abdulrahim sent one of his sons to the country to arrange an export deal with the miners in a legendary plot known as Block C.
“We became the number one importer of tanzanite in the ’80s and ’90s,” Eddie said, adding that for a time, the company accounted for about half of all the tanzanite that was imported into the United States.
“My father had a safe and took the best of the best stones and put them in there. He said one day they would be hard to find.”
Together with his five children, Abdulrahim built a company that it is now not only a lead jeweler in the United States but also has a worldwide following.
Among examples of their well-known pieces is the Fiesta Bowl Tiara that was hand crafted over six months by Le Vian using four ounces of 18 carat gold. The tiara has been worn by the reigning Fiesta Bowl Queen since 1985 during the pageant and parade preceding the championship football game.
An example of the persistence and determination the LeVians bring to their craft was their fifty-year search to find 51 perfectly matching sapphires in order to create a set of matching necklace, earrings and rings. The set was finally produced 30 years after the last piece had been collected and 80 years after it was first envisioned.
The Le Vian line has produced 100,000 original designs in its 500 year history. Their collections are known for their bold use of color, resourceful styling and construction, and a distinct Persian flavor. The LeVian family uses colorful gemstones sometimes combining colors in unexpected ways. Each piece is unique, ornate, and beautiful on its own, but when combined with simpler jewelry of similar colors, or worn as a set with coordinating Le Vian pieces, the effect is stunning.
In 2013, the brand declared Chocolate Quartz as the Gem of the Year. It is a rich brown gemstone that was the inspiration for Le Vian’s Chocolatier line. Persian essence features prominently in this line, through surprising and stunning color combinations, generous use of diamonds, and exotic designs that look like they should be owned by royalty.
In 2000, when Le Vian first introduced its trademarked Chocolate Diamonds concept, a new gem vernacular was born. From Strawberry Gold, which indicates a warmer tone of pink gold, to Neapolitan Opal, a lustrous type of Ethiopian opal, the language associated with Le Vian’s jewels usually reminds buyers of something good to eat.
In the JCK article, Eddie said, “The language of food touches people in the old brain, which is more convinced by instincts than logic. By using the language of food, we’re trying to bring the business back to instincts, not things like [technical names.] We feel the biggest damage to the business has been this commoditization.
“Beyond bringing romance back into the industry, the names enable us to define that narrow range of what we define as ‘chocolate diamonds,’ which is only about 4 percent of Argyle’s production,” Eddie said referring to the mine in Australia where the vast majority of the world’s brown diamonds are sourced.
“Before the company popularized the stones, they were considered little more than rubbish. We’re giving everyday Americans a way to become collectors of natural color diamonds.”
Lately, Le Vian has focused on timepieces, specifically, diamond-set bangle watches for women designed with a nod to Art Deco. “It’s the fastest-growing part of our business,” Eddie says. The quartz-powered watches retail from $1,000 to $8,000.
Le Vian watches are made in Switzerland and meet all the requirements of its watchmaking industry. Only high-quality materials such as stainless steel or 18K gold and sapphire glass are used.
Le Vian Watches’ Straps are made of ostrich, alligator and python leather. Straps are easily changeable and are produced in a wide range of colors.
Several models are decorated with rare brilliants of chocolate color. Watches with three hands appeal to those who love classic styles. The fashionable watches with futuristic designs charm young, active people.
Le Vian offers watch collections called, Taylor, Sunflower, Sardania, Sahara, Milano, Midnight, Medallion, Medallion Midi, Pahntom III, Royalton, Royalton XL, Soho II, Soho II Midi, Soho III, Marsais, LV Sport, Katana, Hudson II, Floater, Floater II, Floater III, Duo Midi, Duo Diamond, Diva, Diamante, Delano Diamond, Deco Estate, Complacations, Classico and Centurion.
In 2011, Le Vian jewelry with images of flora and fauna became popular. To cater to the latest fashion trends, the brand launched a collection of watches called, Into The Wild. On the dials are images of wild animals (bears, tigers, and cheetahs) assembled out of precious stones.
The company’s watch collections usually fall into an average price range. Le Vian watches are available at specialty jewelry and watch stores priced at around $500-$700.
Celebrities are often photographed wearing Le Vian. These celebrities include Scarlett Johansson and former First Lady, Michelle Obama.
“The rule is: We never pay [celebrities] to wear Le Vian,” says Eddie. “If they fall in love with the jewelry, they have to buy it.”
Once a piece has been worn by a celebrity and documented, it becomes part of the jeweler’s Red Tag collection.
Le Vian is the jeweler (now turned luxury brand) with a trendsetting path that combines innovative design concepts and ‘deliciously’ flavored exotic gemstones and diamonds revealed in the company’s Red Carpet Revue Trend Forecast held annually in Las Vegas.
Le Vian attributes its rise in fine jewelry and watches to its passion for finding the most beautiful gems in the world and designing the most innovative, unique looks to bring the gems to life. This combination has resulted in hundreds of red carpet moments for many of Hollywood’s celebrities who choose Le Vian’s distinctive jewelry and also for over one million collectors worldwide who seek to acquire Le Vian’s latest trend setting designs.
Even as its ‘A-List’ popularity grows, the LeVian family continues its tradition of producing quality jewelry suitable for both every day wear and special occasions.