Matthew’s Jewelers in Studio City Celebrates Its 50th Anniversary
All that glitters.
Written byLinda Grasso
Photographed byShane O’Donnell
With yellow and white diamond cufflinks at her wrist and substantial diamond rings on both ring fingers, tapping away on her old-school computer in the Matthew’s Jewelry Studio City showroom, Aida is the first to admit that she never envisioned herself as a businesswoman. But that indeed is what she has become. As owner and chief designer at Matthew’s, now celebrating its 50th anniversary, she presides over a bustling retail operation, not only selling but designing and creating custom jewelry. Some of her clients, including Paula Abdul and Angela Bassett, have been loyal customers for decades. There’s also the celebrity couple (to protect their privacy, Aida declines to share the name) who recently celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary.
Aida’s father in Liberia, Africa, where he worked as a rough diamond expert
“Twenty years ago, they bought their wedding band from me. They came back and asked me to create a ring to go with the band. I created a piece with a yellow diamond with yellow diamond prongs. I brought the ring with me to attend the ceremony when they renewed their vows. I felt such pride to be able to make the ring for them and attend the ceremony. This is a happy business!” she says with a big smile.
Setting the Stone
Aida’s late husband, Michael Bogosian, was the founder of Matthew’s Jewelry, which he opened in 1972 when he was just 23 years old. Michael’s father had been a jeweler in Istanbul, Turkey, and Michael started working alongside him as a boy. “As a child, he’d do basic things like get coffee for everyone. He started apprenticing, and ultimately he learned the business.”
Over the years, using his designer’s name, “Michael B,” Michael became a sought-after, award-winning jeweler. Sifting through the snapshots at the store, Aida finds one of Michael at his design table with a Faberge egg. “He was commissioned by J. B. Nethercutt, who founded the car museum The Nethercutt Collection up in Sylmar, to make that egg. It was for his 50th wedding anniversary, and it hid a band fashioned with interlocking hearts and set with 50 diamonds,” she explains.
“I love what I do, and I take a lot of pride in doing things in a refined way. Here we craft things knowing the difference between quality work and just product.”
With each passing year, the business grew, mostly by word of mouth. “He was a true creative in every sense, and people just started coming to the store—not only from the Valley, but from all over,” Aida shares.
Michael Bogosian at his Studio City store in the 1970s
The Heritage Piece
Aida also comes from a jewelry background. Her father was a rough-diamond expert. Growing up in the 1960s in Beirut, Lebanon, she and her mother and three siblings lived apart from her father most of the year.
“He worked in Liberia, Africa—a bold move at the time. When my dad arrived, he was the very first white man there. He bought rough diamonds from what are called diggers, people who get them from the mines.”
Aida migrated to the United States in 1976 to escape the war in Lebanon, ultimately attending the Gemological Institute of America in Santa Monica (the GIA is now in Carlsbad) and becoming certified as a gemologist. She worked for five years—until the age of 24—at the estate-buying company Kazanjian in Beverly Hills.
“James Kazanjian, the owner, taught me everything about being a gemologist. He’d give me an expensive diamond and challenge me to determine the grade. He’d give me all sorts of challenges, trying to catch me on this and that. And my skills really grew.”
She ended up working in sales for an Italian line of jewelry—and that is in fact how she met her husband. “I went into Matthew’s to try and sell him, but he wasn’t there. I left my number with the employees, and he called. On our first date he told me he was going to marry me.”
Six months later the two were married, also joining forces to run the store. Aida gave birth to two sons (now 32 and 36 years of age) and continued working alongside Michael until his sudden death in 2002.
“He was traveling for business and had a heart attack in the airport. The police called me at 10 p.m. that night. I thought it was him calling to check in at the end of the day. I remember just screaming. It was a shock.”
Above: (Large Image) Aida says that as a certified gemologist she can’t tell the difference between natural diamonds (row on left) and organic lab-grown diamonds (row on right). (Small Images) Matthew’s craftsman Leo Cruz works on a piece
Operating Matthew’s Jewelry as solo owner over the past 10 years has been a learning experience for Aida. For one, she’s learned how to adapt and change. Take, for example, the store’s long-standing philosophy toward lab-grown diamonds.
“People kept trying to sell me lab diamonds. Of all the jewelers in the world, I thought to myself, I should not even consider this. I kept saying no, no, no. But when the GIA, the most highly respected lab in the world, certified lab-grown diamonds, I said, ‘Game over. I’ve got to get into this.’”
Nowadays she counts herself as a fan of lab diamonds, which are generally half the cost of natural diamonds. “Look, I’m a certified gemologist and I can’t tell the difference. Younger people come in here and ask for lab diamonds. This is what a first-time buyer can afford. And if I can help a young couple find their dream ring, or a woman whose stone has been lost or damaged, I take a lot of pride in that. I recently put a lab diamond in a ring that had a stone fall off into a trash compactor and get damaged.”
She’s also learned how to bounce back, not just from her husband’s death, but from the crushing experience of being a luxury retailer during the pandemic.
“It was a rough time. I do own the building, but I had to defer the mortgage. And yes, we’ve come back from a sales standpoint, but it is not as good as it was before the pandemic. Plus, I’ve gone from 20 to only four employees. But you have to go with the punches in life. At the end of the day, I love what I do, and I take a lot of pride in doing things in a refined way. Creating and designing jewelry is an art. Here we craft things knowing the difference between quality work and just product. Just a stroke of a file can make a difference between a well-made piece versus something that is computer-generated.”
And on this point, she digs in: “And that will never change.”
Tacos from the heart.