Bedros Sevadjian – A Jeweler to an Emperor’s Court

Bedros Sevadjian – A JewelerBedros Sevadjian was born in Antep (now Gaziantep, Turkey), Ottoman Empire, in 1918. His father Avetis Sevadjian had been a successful trader working in Ethiopia. In the years of the Hamidian massacres, the family moved to Ethiopia but shortly returned to their homeland. However, the 1915 Armenian Genocide forced them to leave their native land forever.

In Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia, Avetis Sevadjian ran a thriving business. There, Bedros would study at the Teferi Makonen School, a school mostly teaching members of Ethiopian aristocracy. With time, Bedros realized that the shoe factory and the grist-mill of his father aren’t the things that he would like to be engaged with. He thus began to study jewelry with Nigoghos Djidedjian, a jeweler at the Court of Haile Selassie I, as well as a master of filigree work.

In 1938, Sevadjian arrived in Milan, Italy, to study jewelry. Having demonstrated his great skill and acquired plenty of new knowledge, Sevadjian returned to Ethiopia to continue his cooperation with Djidedjian. Because Djidedjian was old, Bedros decided to purchase his workshop. Eventually, Bedros would establish the company B.A. Sevadjian in 1946. The company would immediately get a standing contract from the government for manufacturing buttons, symbols, crowns, and stars for military uniforms.

In 1950, Sevadjian was officially appointed the furnisher to the Imperial Palace. He was also put in charge of the Imperial Mint. Sevadjian held both positions until 1974, the year a civil war broke out in Ethiopia and when the emperor was overthrown.

Bedros Sevadjian created a multitude of items that would be presented to foreign guests by the Emperor of Ethiopia himself or taken as presents to foreign countries during the Emperor’s tours. Among the most important creations of Sevadjian were the solid silver wreath presented to the U.S.A at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, as well as a solid gold tray presented to Queen Elizabeth II on her visit to Ethiopia in 1965.

Bedros Sevadjian died in 1977 in Addis Ababa. Many of his works are now showcased in museums throughout Ethiopia.

Inessa Sargsyan

Յակոբ Նալպանտեան commented to clarify:              

“Bedros Svadjian was my father’s colleague and one of his closest friends, a fellow Gold and Silversmith. Bedros did not pass away in Addis Abeba. He tried to escape to Djibouti and disappeared somewhere in the Harar desert, a tragic event for us. He was a true gentleman. I remember him well”.

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