New York City. Feb. 24, 2021. President and founder of Jova Inc. and Z.Jova Joseph Varjabedian, died on Feb. 12 from complications due to Covid-19.
Born March 10, 1957, in Aleppo, Syria, to Armenian roots, Varjabedian had a well-traveled life, was a skilled jeweler, and was treasured by many. He studied computer science at New York University but fell in love with jewelry after a brother-in-law introduced him to the trade in Syria. Varjabedian moved to Russia for a period to run a large manufacturing outfit, eventually returning to New York City to open his own Jova Inc. in 1999. At the time, he sensed a shift in manufacturing from wax models to CAD/CAM and became an expert in it and in 3D printing. He attracted a high-profile cadre of designer clientele, including Wilfredo Rosado—who made an engagement ring for Mariah Carey—and also unveiled z.jova.com, a custom jewelry website where clients could make their own zodiac signs merged with initials, shopping from a library of more than 300 designs.
Colleagues will remember Varjabedian for his generosity, mentorship, care and concern for others, and commitment to excellence in work.
Jewelry designer Alison Nagasue recalls being struck by the quality of his polishing work when she started working with Varjabedian 20 years ago. A friend had recommended him, and he graciously accepted her desire to be hands-on in the production process. “He was totally open to my visits, and his finishing was flawless,” she says. “The quality was what impressed me.”
Meanwhile, designer Doryn Wallach leaned on Varjabedian as her sample maker since the inception of her line in 2015. She credits him for meticulous work, generosity of spirit (and time), and as being a beloved mentor.
“No CAD person will ever let me do what Joseph did—let me sit behind him while he created my CAD and allow me to direct him,” she recollects. “He was so patient and such a good guy. Anytime I went in to see him, he would ask about my family first. He was meticulous and a complete perfectionist; he invented a tool just to clean my fluted work! He taught me so much about making jewelry—I knew how to design but not manufacture. He was honest, an artist himself, and deserves to be recognized. He and Cindy Edelstein were my two biggest mentors.”
Varjabedian is survived by four sisters, nine nieces and nephews, and 17 great nieces and nephews. A service took place shortly after he died, but donations can be made to the Sts. Vartanantz Armenian Apostolic Church in Ridgefield, N.J. The family plans to continue operating Z.Jova.