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August 21, 2019updated May 12, 2020

Travel Diaries: Jewelry Designer Ara Vartanian

By Emma Reynolds

In our exciting new Travel Diaries series, Elite Traveler will speak with designers, style icons and gurus in their respective fields on their must-have travel items when trotting the globe.

Ara Vartanian, Jewelry Designer

São Paolo, Brazil

Ara Vartanian | Rui Mendes

Brazilian-Armenian jewelry designer, Ara Vartanian, founded his eponymous jewelry label in 2000. He’s known for his two- and three-finger rings, use of colorful (and often inverted) gemstones and crafting unique, innovative shapes. His works ranges between intricate geometric and edgy designs to simple, feminine silhouettes in both his fine jewelry and high jewelry. Growing up in São Paolo, he considers the city a never-ending source of inspiration.


“São Paulo is a very dynamic city where you have a blend of cultures. The geographical location is between the states of Minas Gerais and Bahia, which are great suppliers of precious stones such as diamonds, emeralds and tourmalines.”

Favorite Hotel

Credit: Fasano Hotel São Paolo

Fasano Hotel São Paulo has a wonderful Italian restaurant, the staff always makes you feel welcome and you’re pampered.”

Favorite Restaurant


“For food, I go to D.O.M. The chef is my good friend Alex Atala. You might get lucky and bump into him while you’re there. During lunch, he prepares typical Brazilian dishes with his own special touch. Alex focuses on ingredients from all over Brazil and then interprets them in his own way. Try the picadinho and I always drink the Caiprinha de Jabuticaba, which is amazing.”

For coffee, Vartanian suggests Joe King Coffee Shop. “You can grab the best coffee in São Paulo and also pick up the latest accessory or item of clothing.”

Favorite shops & galleries

Luciano Brito Galeria

Tiago Tebet. “IssoNaoéumTrabalhoPolitico/IssoÉumTrabalhoPolitico , 2017acrylic on canvas74.80 x 51.18 in

“I often visit the Luciana Brito Galeria, a great gallery in a superb house from the 1950s designed by architect Rino Levi. If you go, you must check out the works of artist Tiago Tebet.”

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Feira do Bixiga & Feira da Benedito Calixto

“I love to go shopping for vintage furniture at different markets. On Sundays there is the Feira do Bixiga, the antique furniture fair. I have found some amazing pieces here. For example, a few years ago I came across a table designed by Norman Foster and managed to get it for the equivalent of about $730. It now has pride of place in my Brazilian atelier. On Saturdays, I go to the Feira da Benedito Calixto – I’ve found so many interesting things there and it’s the perfect place to walk around and browse.”

Fortes D’Aloia & Gabriel Gallery

Janaina Tschäpe (Munich, Germany, 1973) paintings | Credit:

“The Fortes D’Aloia & Gabriel gallery on Rua Fradique Coutinho is another favorite. They have a great selection of Brazilian artists – I especially love going to their warehouse (the Galpao) in Barra Funda, where they have works from Janaina Tschape and Luiz Zerbini.”

Travel tips

“I love to travel and soak up different cultures, which in turn influences my design process. I always try to sleep on the plane if I’m crossing time zones so that I can fit into the local time as quickly as possible. I’m lucky to have a lot of friends in cities around the world, so once I arrive I’m very busy and very quickly catching up and hanging out with people I know and love. I travel to London a lot to visit my boutique in Mayfair, but I also try to get over to mainland Europe while I’m there because it’s so handy.”

I can’t travel without…

“I never travel without my amulets. I wear a black diamond and amethyst necklace and an emerald ring, my wedding ring which is a heart trace of my wife crafted in white gold.”

Which piece most reflects São Paolo’s culture?

Ara Vartanian earrings in 18K yellow gold with 3.75 carats black diamond,

“For São Paulo I feel my black diamond inverted studs are a fantastic reflection of the culture. In this way you can circulate under the radar, with the inverted setting reflecting the edginess of society.”

To see more of Ara’s work and to shop his pieces, visit 

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