From The Boston Herald

Money Where His Mouth Is


Chillin' and grilling for the average Joe means a backyard bash and a
few brewskis. For Celtics [team stats] center Kendrick Perkins [stats]
it involves a smile brimming with diamonds, the bejeweled mouthpiece
of the elite rap and sports set.

That the Celtics center recently spent thousands on oral bling is no
surprise to jeweler Richard Berberian of Reading, who has dozens
celebrity clients on his roster.

`If they win, I win,' Berberian said of Boston's players and `playas.'

More surprising is the unpretentious locale of Berberian's business,
Elyse Jewelers: an unassuming spot on Main Street in Reading, neatly
set back from gas stations, an insurance company and a garden center.

`Geographically, it's the apex of everything around here - Boston, the
Mass Pike, New Hampshire. It's private, it's safe, it's easy to
park. It works really well for celebrities and athletes,' Berberian
said. `A lot of people come in and see the type of jewelry I carry and
say, `It doesn't look like Reading.' That's because my market, for the
most part, isn't.'

A glance at his star-studded walls tells you that the glitterati leave
with shining grins, designs combining geometric shapes and stones. His
accessories have adorned Channel 7's Victoria Block, Mario Lopez and
Shelley Hennig of `Days of Our Lives.'

Berberian just wrapped up a season accessorizing `Superstars of Dance'
hosts Michael Flatley and Methuen's own former Miss USA, Susie
Castillo. He's also enjoyed an `American Idol' hook-up: one of his
latest pieces, a stunning 113-karat blue topaz pendant necklace, was
slated for exposure on America's top-rated show - until, for the first
time in the show's eight-season history, no female contestant made the

`I like working with color, making larger pieces using gemstones that
are more nontraditional,' said Berberian. `I'm doing a lot of work
with lesser-priced but striking gems like beryl. I've made some really
cool pieces out of topaz and quartz - striking gems but not
over-the-top expensive. I like building more substantial pieces that
grab your attention.'

He's captured the eye of Canadian-cum-Boston designer Samuel Vartan,
with whom he worked for Boston Fashion Week.

Vartan, who has used the same metal belt designs of Berberian's that
have adorned the likes of Paris Hilton and supermodel Karolina
Kurkova, said: `His work really does have a very Mediterranean
cultural theme to it. Europeans like nice, exorbitant jewelry and his
is very obviously tastefully done, but it can easily be the other way

Vartan says his spring-summer collection is an `ode to Mediterranean
cultural living' that includes resortwear influenced by Italy and
Turkey. Berberian, a seventh-generation jeweler in a family with
Turkish and Armenian roots, says he particularly likes Italy, where
he's traveled frequently for business and pleasure, and is inspired by

There are several affordable pieces in Berberian's My First Gems
collection, a line ranging from $95 to $2,999 (for one-carat ideal-cut
diamond studs) geared toward children. But he's quick to note, `It's
not kiddie jewelry.'

`It's not necessarily small, either,' he said. `Everything is set in
gold or platinum; you can wear it your entire life. I've sold as much
of this to adults as to people' buying for children.

One versatile three-in-one diamond-pendant design features concentric
circles that can be worn together or individually with just the
yellow-gold or diamond circles. Sales of the ideal-cut diamond studs
have been steady, he said, especially in graduation season, and
Berberian envisions a long future for them: `Quarter-carat sets might
be too small for a young woman. But they'd make perfectly matched side
stones to any engagement ring.'

And Berberian is feeling the love: Despite the economically driven lag
in the retail jewelry market, Elyse's bridal business is going
strong. (He recently ran a Jordan's Furniture-like promotion, where if
it rained on a couple's wedding day, their rings were free; Jordan's
offered free furniture if the Red Sox [team stats] won the World

`I think it's to the point where if it's time for a young couple to
get engaged, it doesn't matter what the economy's doing. If it's time
to pull the trigger, you pull the trigger,' he said. `Maybe instead of
spending $10,000, they're backing off and it's going to be $7,000. But
all the boomers kids are coming of age. There's a huge crop of kids
getting engaged and married.'