Ghoukas Arzuman: “Being Armenian assumes a certain kind of awareness”

It turns out that singing and jewelry making can be combined. As an example, “Hayern Aysor” presents an interview with Istanbul-Armenian jeweler, head of Istanbul’s Sahakyan Choir Ghoukas Arzuman.

Ghoukas Arzuman: When I was a kid, every summer we would visit Master Hovsep, who currently lives in the USA. We would watch him work and learn some things from him. In reality, a person learns about jewelry by seeing and experimenting. We all started our journey by taking it step by step.

My main job is to make the golden template for diamonds. I work with professional jewelers, not the last customer or buyer.

All my family members work with metals. For instance, my father made copper. I think the secret of all this is in the genes that all Armenians have.

Jewelers have a big market in Istanbul. If you do the job right, you can achieve success. But I mainly sell my products abroad, especially in Dubai where I have achieved quite a lot of success.

“Hayern Aysor”: You also sing.

G. A.: Yes, I am one of the nearly 70 members of the Sahakyan Choir, which is under the auspices of the Saint Gevorg Armenian Church of Constantinople. We also have a children’s choir. Alongside my personal matters and community service, I am also the head of the choir. In 2013, the Sahakyan Choir participated in the “Komitas Vardapet” Festival at the invitation of the RA Ministry of Diaspora.

“Hayern Aysor”: How did you start collaborating with the Armenian Jewellers Association (AJA)?

G. A.: About two or three years ago, President of the Armenian Jewellers Association Gagik Gevorgyan extended a helping hand and asked us to join the Association. We Istanbul-Armenian jewelers didn’t want to hold the “hand”, but the “arm”. We attach great importance to this association because it contributes to our advancement. The annual Yerevan Show jewelry exhibitions in Yerevan are a real celebration for Armenian jewelers and serve as a great opportunity for us to come together.

That’s why we are very content with the fact that the Ministry of Diaspora organizes many programs and festivals that creates opportunities for us to come together in Armenia. Thanks to such programs and activities in the Homeland, it seems as though us Diaspora Armenians feel the warmth and support of our “mother”.

That’s why such gatherings have more meaning than just being an exhibition.

“Hayern Aysor”: Is this your first time participating in the exhibition?

G. A.: No, it is my second time. More and more Istanbul-Armenian jewelers participate in the exhibition every year. Last year, there were 20 Istanbul-Armenian jewelers, and this year there are 28, even though we have come to Armenia with a group of nearly 80 jewelers.

We hope there will be more Istanbul-Armenian jewelers at the next Yerevan Show exhibition.

We also wanted to be here because it is our duty. If Armenia organizes such events and invites us, we have to be the first ones here.

“Hayern Aysor”: How do you combine singing and jewelry making?

G. A.: Singing is a part of our spiritual life, and jewelry making is what I do. In the morning, we all go to work, and in the evenings we gather and start singing.

The choir helps us Istanbul-Armenians come together and, most importantly, it helps the youth come together.

Once again, our gene is the one “to blame”. We want to see our type everywhere, support each other and pass the heritage on to the next generations, and that’s why the spiritual life is very important for us.

Being Armenian is not only about living your daily life. Being Armenian assumes a certain kind of awareness, as well as the ability to learn the language, culture and history, preserve all that and pass it on to the generations. Only through combined efforts will we Armenians be able to preserve all that we have. There is no other way. If we Armenians forget, who will remember?

Interview by Lusine Abrahamyan

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