Entrepreneur shines as jewelry maker

Entrepreneur shines as jewelry maker
By Jennifer Berry

Valley Sun, CA
May 28 2004

Photo by Jennifer Berry IN HIS STUDIO – Harout Kioudjian works on a
piece of silver jewelry. He says “there’s always something to learn”
about his craft.

Whether it’s a shiny platinum bracelet for Michael Jackson, a
jewel-encrusted belly chain for Britney Spears, or a gold pendant in
the shape of a musical note for Madonna, jewelry designed and produced
by Harout Kioudjian shows up around the world.

It’s been worn by celebrities, featured in magazines and on television,
and sold in upscale jewelry stores such as Henry Duarte in Beverly

The master silversmith’s global career began humbly, polishing jewelry
at the age of 7 in a small shop in Lebanon.

“I did a couple months of polishing. I loved it, but I was doing better
than a professional jeweler. He got jealous. He tried to get me fired
because I was doing a better job than he,” said the father of two,
who recently moved to La Cañada Flintridge from Pasadena.

Even though Kioudjian, who owns H.K. Quantum, enjoyed working
with metals and jewels, he didn’t realize at first that it was his
calling. Educated for seven years in a Catholic school in Lebanon,
he tried his hand at religion by attending an Armenian monastery for
one year.

“I felt like a prisoner,” he joked.

He was reintroduced to the jewelry business when, after his family
immigrated to the Los Angeles area, the South High School student
began helping out in his uncle’s Torrance jewelry store after school.

A member of the Armenian National Committee of America Western
Region/La Crescenta Chapter board of directors, Kioudjian, whose
grandparents escaped the Armenian genocide, said jewelry making runs
in the family.

His mother’s uncle taught his uncle, Nazareth Kioudjian. Following the
tradition, the La Cañada businessman learned valuable skills in the
back of his uncle’s shop, from polishing, repairing and cleaning gold
and silver pieces to sizing rings, setting stones and designing pieces.

“I felt good making things [and] creating designs,” he said. “The
creativity of it, it’s endless. There’s always something to learn. It
doesn’t end.”

>>From his uncle’s shop, the jeweler worked on the production lines
and design teams of several jewelry companies, including a stint
subcontracting for Cartier designer Phillip Chariol.

“After a short while I realized it was time to move on,” he said. He
opened Monte Christo Trade Corp. in 1992, in which he made his own
designs, casting and producing marquis chains and tennis bracelets.

Eight years later, he left Monte Christo to try his hand at selling
motor oil and clothes.

“I wanted to change my career,” he said. “Whatever I tried, it wasn’t
my thing. It didn’t work out.”

Now he crafts his masterpieces in a nondescript factory in North
Hollywood, branding his own designs with the logo H.K. Quantum.

“In this jungle, it’s kind of difficult to get somewhere until the
brand is popular,” he said.

Helping spread the word of the H.K. Quantum brand is musician Daniel
“Danny Boy” O’Connor. A member of the former musical group House of
Pain, O’Connor said he began commissioning Kioudjian to design and
produce one-of-a-kind jewelry for him because the jeweler’s good
reputation preceded him.

“At the end of the day, I could afford any jewelry I want,” said
O’Connor, who considers himself a silver connoisseur. “He’s a

The next project O’Connor has planned for Kioudjian is to re-create
a gold ring with a skull design, given to him by Mickey Rourke.

The New York native also recently pointed fellow musician Mike “Mr.
Kaves” McLeer to the manufacturing plant on Lankershim Boulevard.
After sharing a traditional Armenian meal together, the silversmith
finished a silver Armenian cross, which McLeer will wear while his
group, Lordz of Brooklyn, tours on the Vans Warped Tour.

“I’m an artist, so I recognize his craftsmanship,” McLeer said. “The
art in his jewelry, you can see it. He gets his hands dirty. In an
age of mass production, this is old-world craftsmanship.”

While Kioudjian’s designs are available to jewelry companies and to
individuals wanting custom jewelry, his wares will be on display at
the Fourth of July festival at Crescenta Valley High School.

The La Cañada man, whose son attends Chamalian Armenian School and
daughter attends Rosemont Middle School, is a member of the Crescenta
Valley Town Council Community Outreach Committee. He has donated
to the group a silver identification bracelet of his own design and
two rings-one an exact replica of a size 13 1/2 silver ring worn by
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on the Aug. 18, 2003, cover of “Newsweek”
magazine and a smaller reproduction of the ring, which has an intricate
eagle design.

The master silversmith said he runs his business by treating his
customers as friends.

“To me, a person is more important than a business,” he said.