Whether designing a new piece of jewelry or repairing a beloved family antique, jewelry is personal to Aras Uslanian, the founder and owner of Aras Jewelry in Rockville. His philosophy for his business is that his store goes beyond just selling to people – “We work with them, and our ultimate goal is to make them happy.”
This is evident when a customer first enters the unpretentious shop, which Aras and Leslie Schwab, his associate, proudly call “a working studio.” Leslie often meets shoppers who know they want a one-of-a-kind piece and helps guide them in their decision-making.
Aras then takes over with a multi-step-process that begins with a Computer-Aided Design (CAD), a 3D digital model used in modern jewelry design. The CAD is used to 3D print a wax model which is then cast into a precious metal. Aras collaborates with and involves the customer throughout the entire design process.
Aras prides himself that at his store all work is done in his facility, whether it be polishing, restringing, repairing watches, or any other necessary work on jewelry.
Jewelry is personal for Aras because of his background; growing up in Turkey with his Armenian family, he started working in the summer for his uncle’s jewelry store. His first foray into jewelry design came from creating a linked bracelet from a silver vase of his mother’s. After immigrating to the US, Aras worked in jewelry for nine years before opening his own store in 1987 with his sister, Zepur (Laura) Uslanian. Word of mouth from happy customers expanded his clientele, his business to a bigger building in 1995 and, later, to include Leslie.
Leslie has been in the jewelry business for 26 years; with a degree in fine arts, she went on to jewelry design and finally worked in retail. Leslie joined Aras eight years ago and is an invaluable member of his team.
Both have stories to recount of unique designs. Aras once created a pendant of a beloved husband's fingerprint for his widow to wear, and another in the shape of the Star of David with a shamrock center signifying the marriage of a Jewish groom and Irish bride.
Not until 2001 did Aras discover his most intimate connection to jewelry. Tracing back nearly one hundred years ago, his great-grandfather designed a ring as a twentieth anniversary gift for his wife inscribed with their initials and the words “this too shall pass,” a message of hope for the then persecuted Armenians to look forward to happiness and prosperity in the future to come.