Avedis “Avo” Guerboian usually requires three weeks to make a custom Edward Avedis piece at Readers Fine Jewelers.
But when you get a call requesting a custom piece for the CEO of Disney to wear to the world premiere of the eagerly anticipated next chapter in the “Star Wars” saga, even if you only have 10 days to make it, you say yes.
“I got a call asking me to create a custom piece as a gift on December 1st, saying, ‘We need you to make something by the 10th,’” Guerboian said. “I said that, depending on what it was, OK. They said, ‘It’s a gift for Bob Iger, the CEO of Disney.’ They wanted to give him a gift of the new character called BB-8. Then they said they wanted him to have it to wear at the world premiere. So I love Disney, and I love ‘Star Wars,’ so I’m in.”
The customer, a friend of Iger’s, sent Guerboian a picture of the character, a new droid that will appear for the first time in “The Force Awakens,” and told him they wanted a lapel pin.
“They said they wanted something fancy, so at least gold, maybe some diamonds,” Guerboian said. “We talked about whether to make it solid gold or add coloring, or if that would make it look fake. But I told them anything they wanted was possible, so we really collaborated throughout the process.”
Guerboian started with a hand sketch, as he usually does, showing the customer three or four versions of what he could do.
“I didn’t know how we wanted the size to be, or if it should be a traditional pin where you open and close it in back,” he said. “But this customer thought a stem lapel pin would hold up better.”
The designer then picked a close to 2-inch size for the pin and once the sketches were approved he and his three designers started making the samples with dimensions and color.
“We sent them the design and they said, ‘If the design looks like the picture, let’s go for it,’” Guerboian said. “So we sent the rendering to the 3D printer with the actual size representation. That’s the final step before we get to casting it.”
The pin was cast in 18-karat gold, but Guerboian’s work was not done after the pouring and cooling.
“It comes out raw and unfinished,” he said. “All the last minute details are done by hand.”
Guerboian said he felt an enormous amount of pressure while designing the piece, which Iger donned at the Dec. 14 premiere in Hollywood.
“When I knew Bob Iger heavily influenced the design of the character I was freaking out, because that’s pressure right,” he said. “This isn’t like a piece of silver we can remake. This is gold. We included black diamonds for the two eyes. It’s very valuable and it’s one of a kind.
“And they didn’t tell me right away that he had a big hand in creating this character. So I was so nervous, because when you are making someone’s vision come to reality, it’s like, ‘What if he doesn’t like it?’ This isn’t something cheap. It’s sentimental.”
When the item was done, the customer came and picked it up and took it to Iger at his office.
“I got a text when they gave it to him, in all caps, saying ‘He loved it. He’s overwhelmed.’ That’s like the biggest compliment I could get. … That was the best news I could hear.”
Guerboian grew up drawing comics and sketching. When he got older he went to art school to learn animation and originally wanted to work for Disney. He ended up using his talents at the family business, Readers Fine Jewelers, a jewelry store that has been in Santa Monica for over 70 years and in the Guerboian family’s hands since 1967.
“I’m proud he has accomplished that design,” said Edward “Eddie” Guerboian, Guerboian’s father and the owner of Readers Fine Jewelers. “I’m not surprised because he is a natural artist. He can create things. He’s much better than I do as a natural artist. He’s good at that so when the opportunity arrived, he used his talent.”
Guerboian said that the reality of what he has done is only now hitting him.
“It hasn’t sunk in yet,” he said. “I haven’t had time to really relish in it. Like this is really crazy. … But now, having done this, I am somehow connected to Disney. Now the CEO of Disney is wearing something I created. That’s pretty crazy.”