From Volume I of the 2023 #thisispearl digital magazine
Everyone knows the Le Vian name for diamonds—particularly velvety dark-hued ones from Australia with the copyrighted Chocolate name—but cultured pearls have been making inroads in the jewelry collections of the firm owned by the LeVian family. With jewelry roots dating back five centuries in Persia, family members running the business today include Eddie as CEO, Moossa as president, Larry as chairman of the board, Liz Ettesami as merchandising manager, and Jonathan as marketing manager. Plus, up-and-coming generations continue to join the ranks of working LeVians as soon as they can utter the phrase “Chocolate diamond”—a term that the brand famously copyrighted in 2000.
“The LeVian family gained its reputation when in 1746, the Persian ruler Nadir Shah conquered India,” explains Eddie. “Following these events, Shah chose the LeVian family to guard the royal jewels he plundered, including the legendary Koh-i-Noor diamond.”
Several generations later, prestige still follows the family, which is also known for helping to put tanzanite on the retail map in 1980s. Now, after generations of putting colored gemstones and diamonds on a pedestal, Le Vian aims to prop up the cultured pearl as another covetable treasure. Below, Eddie LeVian explains.
What does Le Vian love about cultured pearls so much that the brand made them its “Organic Gem of the Year” in its 2022 Trend Forecast?
At Le Vian, we believe that pearls are emblematic of the pearls of wisdom that we have all gained during these last few of years of great reflection, introspection, and hope. The emphasis on their organic form complements the idea of a reflective period, as their very nature means that it cannot be a hurried or rushed process. Furthermore, we’ve sought to modernize and turn this centuries-old jewel into a cutting-edge fashion trend, creating a range that’s simultaneously playful and sophisticated. This is partly done through our stunning array of colors, as these organic gems are available in Vanilla, Chocolate, Strawberry, and Honey “flavors.” Pearls are a fast-growing category at Le Vian and are beloved for being an organic gemstone.
What varieties of cultured pearls does Le Vian offer, and what do shoppers love most?
We use both freshwater and South Sea pearls. The Le Vian Vanilla and Strawberry pearls are freshwater pearls. Le Vian’s Honey pearls and Chocolate pearls are South Sea pearls. Our Chocolate pearls are very special, they are not dyed like many pearls in the market. Our pearl styles incorporating swirls are very popular and fashion forward, and pieces with Strawberry pearls and Chocolate diamonds are especially popular.
A resurgence of pearls at Le Vian holds special meaning for us because it links way back to pieces from the past and our history when pearls featured in some of our family’s earliest historic designs. Our new pearl designs are a fresh take on some of our historic creations.
Where can collectors find Le Vian pearl jewelry?
In the U.S., there are currently 3,000 retail points of sale which stock Le Vian, including Kay and Jared stores belonging to our retail partner Signet; 550 Macy’s department stores; and independently owned retail stores. We’re also in approximately 100 UK stores such as Ernest Jones and H Samuel, which are also owned by Signet. Le Vian can also be found in select stores in the Caribbean, Israel, and on cruise ships.
Le Vian has invested heavily in advertising over the past few decades. What’s the best part about becoming a household name in jewelry?
Our goal is to democratize luxury and deliver the world’s most beautiful and desirable jewelry, while making it available and affordable for everyone. We aim to create jewelry that works at every price point—from royals to the middle-class.
Le Vian is equally excited about its philanthropy. The company gives back through educational, medical, and diamond industry charities, as evidenced by the board mandate to give away a set sum of pre-tax profits annually. Philanthropic initiatives include establishing the Rafa Foundation, a nonprofit charity to help cancer patients and their families; giving millions of dollars to children’s charities such as St Jude’s Children Hospital and Jewelers for Children; and dedicating over $1 million to the Le Vian Medical Emergency Fund, which helps people who need surgery not covered by insurance.
From left: Eddie LeVian, Larry LeVian, and Moossa LeVian
This 40-pound jeweled elephant was crafted by Le Vian jewelers in 1746 as a tribute to Nadir Shah, Persia’s most famed ruler. The piece is 11 inches tall and 12 inches long and inlaid with 6,602 pieces of natural turquoise totaling 12,000 carats from the legendary Neyshabur mine in Persia, which is now depleted. Each eye is a 2-carat round ruby, and the tusks are hand-carved ivory.
Cultured pearl and gemstone jewelry from Le Vian