Palm Springs Sun
November 30, 2007
Smoke Tree Jewelers: Jeweler Turns Passion Into Life’s Work
By: Stefenie Frith
Garo Tutunjian is known as “the jeweler’s jeweler.”
Tutunjian and his wife, Jacci have owned Smoke Tree Jewelers in the Smoke Tree Village Shopping Center for 17 years. But Tutunjian’s history as a jeweler began long before that.
As a boy in Jerusalem he made jewelry instead of going to school.
As a young man in Southern California, he practiced his craft in Beverly Hills and was the first Armenian Jeweler in the downtown Los Angeles Jewelry District, said Jacci Tutunjian.
“No College, no school, no education, just jewelry,” said Garo Tutunjian, who lives in Palm Springs.
He won the International Diamond Award while working in Beverly Hills. He was later persuaded by jewelers in the Coachella Valley to come work for them.
Tutunjian made jewelry for leading jewelers Robann’s, Leed’s, Gucci, and Cartier. He still works with some of them.
He eventually opened his own shops– Garo’s Jeweler’s Jewelry, and Farrah Jewelers in downtown Palm Springs before opening a store in Smoke Tree Village.
“He’s fabulous,” said Craig Johnson of Palm Springs, who was in the Tutunjian’s shop on a recent weekday morning to pick up a custom-made gold and diamond bracelet.
The Tutunjian’s base their business on their love of jewelry and loyalty to customers.
“I trust people and shake their hand,” said Garo Tutunjian “That’s what I believe.”
The couple are eager to show off Garo Tutunjian’s work. He pulls out box after box of sparkling rings, half-finished pendants and princess-cut diamonds.
“This is my work,” he said, his voice thick with his Armenian accent.
Because he designs many of the pieces he sells, a 22 Carat diamond necklace runs $60,000 in his store, compared to what he said would cost double that elsewhere.
They have a wide selection of wedding bands for gay couples, intriguing pendants for the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum and diamond crosses.
They also carry estate pieces and designs from Italy.
The Tutunjian’s customers include police officers, nurses, and celebrities and they said prices fit any pocket book. Tutunjian once designed a cross for Dolores Hope and a pendant for Elvis Presley.
Jacci Tutunjian said she likes enhancing people’s lives through jewelry.
“The look in a (person’s) face when they put on a bracelet, it’s such a good feeling” she said.