Vram Minassian quickly emerged as a creative force on the jewelry scene.
The Sine 03 ring with black diamonds
VRAM's Echo ring - the piece that started it all.
The Eon earrings are one-of-a-kind and exclusive to Forty Five Ten
The Eon kinetic ring made of 18k gold
The 2tau ring
A VRAM ring covered in dazzling yellow sapphires
Earrings with brown and gray diamonds and black rhodium
While Vram Minassian may have just launched his namesake jewelry line, VRAM, last year, he has been designing behind-the-scenes for private label brands (like Loree Rodkin) for more than 30 years and is widely known in the jewelry world as an expert in his craft.
His greatest passion other than jewelry? Art. Though Minassian would tell you that, for him, they are one in the same. He draws inspiration from his vast collection of mid-century modernist sculpture for his designs, which he views as works of art themselves.
“When you take this ring off at night and put it on your nightstand, it’s a decorative piece,” Minassian says of his Echo ring, the beautifully fluid yet boldly conceptual piece that became the impetus behind his entire collection.
Known for scouting out the best up-and-coming designers, Forty Five Ten is now the only retailer of the Los Angeles-based designer’s jewelry in Texas. We caught up with Minassian on his first day in the Main Street store and think Forty Five Ten couldn’t have brought him onboard at a better time. With a namesake line and a distinct point of view all his own, this designer is stepping out of the background and finally taking flight.
PaperCity: It must be liberating to create pieces that are completely your vision after designing for so long. What has the response been like?
Vram Minassian: Most people that come in contact with my jewelry for the first time, they don’t know what to do. Because it’s not something they have seen before. When I took my first piece to a retailer, the buying team said, ‘What is this stuff? What do we do with it? Do we have a client for it?’ That’s what I’m bringing to the table.
I didn’t create this because there’s a market for it. I created it because, you know what, after 28 years of doing private label, I just want to do what I want to do. And whether it finds a market or not, that’s secondary. I just want to make pieces that speak to me. I want to make sure that anybody that understands what we’re doing and wants to invest in our work is investing in something that is special.
PC: You’ve said your works are greatly influenced by sculpture.
VM: The inspiration for my work is always going to be art. It’s always going to be sculpture. Some of these pieces are very clean and liquid, so the inspiration comes from artists like Brancusi or Henry Moore. Some of these are more mid-century and, if you look at these, they’re very Giacometti.
This is where I live. It’s what our creative space looks like – we’re drizzled with all kinds of sculpture and art books everywhere. At the end of the day, fast forward a year from now and no matter what piece you’re looking at, you’re going to say ‘This is a Vram.’
PC: You have such a unique point of view. How did you develop your personal aesthetic while designing for other labels?
VM: I had always known what that aesthetic was and I had always known that aesthetic is not commercial. Did I make some pieces in this aesthetic in the past? Yes – but never to sell. It was made for a flamboyant cousin or for a girlfriend.
PC: So she’s a leader, she’s bold, she’s an individual… How would you describe the woman who wears your jewelry?
VM: You just did! She’s also the woman who has the 20-carat diamond, the multiple options of the Cartiers and the Bulgaris, and she’s ready for art jewelry.
Things get tricky when it comes to ‘art jewelry’ because there’s some that is almost not wearable. Which I really love and appreciate – but you can’t wear it. Maybe once — to a museum opening. But this art jewelry is very wearable. Like the Echo ring which can be worn upright or sideways. It just becomes your weapon. A weapon for a woman who is bold and takes charge of her life. My wife. She does not take that ring off.
PC: Everything started with the Echo.
VM: It started with that and everything balances on that. The starting point is so important. If you start right, you trajectory is right, and your starting point is actually the pivotal point for everything. So my starting point is that: the Echo. It’s you looking at yourself. There’s so much power in there.
PC: When did that starting point happen for you?
VM: It was a dream at 3 a.m. It has happened my whole life, for hundreds and hundreds of pieces that I’ve sketched. Once you’ve been doing it for a decade or two, you have a dream and think ‘Oh, I’ll wake up and remember.’ Sometimes you wake up and you do remember, but you’re so unhappy because you’re a little off. You think, I wish I woke up.
That day, I wasn’t lazy. I thought, this is so amazing that I can’t not wake up! We had our three-month-old baby sleeping in our bedroom. I got up and just sketched it with my iPhone and when I woke up in the morning. . . it all started.
PC: Your line is carried at Barney’s and in select stores in New York and California and now we’re thrilled to have you here at Forty Five Ten. What drew you to Dallas?
VM: The arts. Scale. Pioneers. People are not shy. These are all reasons. LA is a tough market for my look. People are very casual in LA — they like little stacky things — and New York definitely is a little more aggressive. San Francisco has been a good market because they also really appreciate the arts. You just have to be patient and allow people that appreciate the brand to have a chance to get to know it. We can’t think of a better retail partner than Forty Five Ten.