By David Belchermay
LONDON (New York Times) — If the jeweler Ara Vartanian had asked the gods for a muse, he could not have gotten a better one than Kate Moss. That is what the model has been since she visited his São Paulo, Brazil, atelier four years ago — and she is the reason, at least in part, that Vartanian is opening a new showroom in early June in Mayfair.
“It was a totally chance meeting,” he said recently in a phone interview from São Paulo. “I was having lunch near my showroom, and they called me to say Kate Moss was in the store and said she wanted a tanzanite ring designed for her.”
Vartanian, who is a connoisseur of rare stones, including tourmalines and pigeon blood rubies, said it was a simple process for Moss. “I always say a stone chooses you,” he noted. “She looked at one and said, ‘Boom, that is the one.’ ”
In an email, Ms. Moss wrote: “I came across Ara’s treasure by accident in a small shop in São Paulo. I was invited to his studio where I fell in love! I wanted everything and I haven’t stopped wanting.” She was in São Paulo for the annual amfAR gala (she is a longtime co-chairwoman of the annual event, which this year honored her for her contributions).
The next year she wore a necklace and earrings designed by Vartanian to the gala, causing quite a stir. “She told me that I had to go to London with this stuff,” he recalled.
Vartanian, who also has stores in Rio de Janeiro and Los Angeles, plans to display about 500 pieces of jewelry in the London space, and to recreate there the relaxed aesthetic of his São Paulo atelier by using cushy vintage couches and earth tones. “There is a niche for jewelry like mine because I’m the person who buys the stones and individually designs each piece,” he said. “Sometimes it hurts when I sell them. You design it. You create it. By the time it’s ready you’re so connected to it that you don’t want to let it go.”
As for London, “I could not have chosen a different place to open a store,” he added with a laugh. “The wind blew and the sails pointed in that direction.”