Professional Jeweler Archive: LeVian: 500 Years of History

December 2000


LeVian: 500 Years of History

The venerable company is celebrating 50 years in the U.S. and 10 times that in jewelry-making history

When you can trace your ancestry 2,500 years to the tribe of Levi, one of the fabled 12 tribes of Israel, a 500th anniversary may not seem like a big deal. But to the three sons and two daughters of Abdulrahim Ephraim LeVian, who died this year, celebrating their company's history was very important.

The LeVian children have paid tribute to their father, who emigrated from Persia in 1950, with a spectacular collection of jewelry and objets d'art that has never been shown outside the family vaults before. The collection, "LeVian Through the Centuries," was displayed at the JA International Jewelry Show in August and has traveled to stores since then for public viewing.

Persian Crown Jeweler

The LeVian family began making jewelry around 1500, and their fame grew through Persia in the ensuing centuries. The family was known originally for hand-carving, hand-painting, beading, engraving, enameling, goldsmithing and silversmithing. The jewels shown here are from the earliest days in business.

By the 1700s, the family had become a trusted jeweler to royalty and began to work with gems the conquering Persians could now obtain. In 1746, the infamous Nadir Shah asked the LeVians to guard his richest plunder, the Kooh-i-noor Diamond, which he found hidden in the turban of the Mogul emperor when he invaded India. The gem weighed a cool 186 carats at the time. After being plundered again by 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 family emerged in the 20th century to produce jewels in all the historic styles of the period. A 1920s Art Deco ring with a superb 4.5-ct. ruby is a prized possession because it belonged to current CEO and designer Eddie LeVian's grandmother. This ring "seduced" him into the family business, he says.

"'LeVian through the Centuries' is a tribute to our father," says LeVian. "It is his vision we honor, his knowledge we have learned from, his integrity we salute."

• LeVian, New York City; (800) 239-9224 or (212) 575-0318,

– Peggy Jo Donahue

The slide pendant (circa 1500) is a solid rectangle of jade adorned with a golden plaque. In the center is a rare old-mine ruby, a field of ancient Persian turquoise and a hand-wrought beaded frame of 22k gold.
The LeVians created this silver filigree necklace around 1500. It features Persian turquoise.

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