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Arto Artinian in the office of Artinian Co. Ltd. located in Bangkok, Thailand.
Arto Artinian in the office of Artinian Co. Ltd. located in Bangkok, Thailand.

A Cut Above

How Arto Artinian’s path from the Middle East to the Far East led to a luxury jewelry empire


Arto Artinian is one of those business executives who operates in multiple time zones without ever losing his edge. As Chairman of Geneva-based Artinian Group S.A., a worldwide group of companies specializing in design, manufacturing, distribution and retailing of luxury products, he regularly crosses continents to attend meetings and oversee the international operations of his successful jewelry enterprise, which has investments in the Far East, Middle East, United States and Europe. This is all in addition to running a special academy that trains new generations in the industry while serving as founder and chairman of the Armenian-Thai Chamber of Commerce, and, as of 2012, the Honorary Consul of the Republic of Armenia in Thailand.

Though the globetrotting Chairman has much to boast about—accomplishments that a rare few achieve in their lifetime—he is decidedly modest in explaining his rise to the top. “I have a great team around me,” he says, his voice tinged with an intriguing mix of accents that are hard to place.

The team he is referring to is made up of over 700 people who are spread across five countries and ten companies, from production facilities to offices and retail shops.

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The Sartoro boutique located in Dubai.

The Sartoro boutique located in Dubai.
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The Sartoro boutique located in Dubai.

Born in Damascus, Syria, his immediate and extended family were active members of the Armenian community. His late father, Souren, a highly respected entrepreneur and jeweler, was heavily involved with AGBU. “We grew up at the ‘agoump’ [club]. I say ‘agoump’ because it was more than a club; it was a place where we learned about Armenian history, played basketball, became scouts and played with our friends. We were always there, even more so because my father was the chairman of the executive committee. He always held meetings. In fact, it often felt like he spent more time there than he would at home!” he jokes.

At the age of eleven, he moved to Nicosia, Cyprus, to attend the Melkonian Educa-tional Institute (MEI), which was established in 1926 under the supervision of AGBU. It was a place where generations of Armenian students from four corners of the world bonded. Many had escaped political instability in the Middle East, particularly the civil war in Lebanon. “To this day, I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to be educated at Melkonian. Not only did I make amazing life-long friends, it also equipped me with the tools I needed to navigate the outside world,” he says.

Throughout the seven years at Melkon-ian, his family, including his two younger siblings, Maral and Saro, remained in his hometown—a decision that ultimately helped shape him into an independent, self-reliant young man with a curious appetite for foreign destinations.

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Arto with his two younger siblings Maral and Saro.

Arto with his two younger siblings Maral and Saro.
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Arto with his two younger siblings Maral and Saro.

After graduating from Melkonian, he spent a further two years on the Mediterranean island to attend the European University of Cyprus, where he graduated with a degree in Business Administration. It was after his return home, in his early twenties, that while working at his father’s atelier, he traveled regularly to Antwerp for his internship as a diamond dealer. He also frequently transited through trade centers in the Middle East. This was also a time of exploration and self-discovery, an attribute which eventually led him to Dubai and to Bangkok respectively: two cities which have been valuable steppingstones to his success as an entrepreneur.

With Thailand’s gem and jewelry industry growing at a tremendous pace and the capital rapidly becoming a hub for gem dealers and jewelers, the savvy businessman saw great opportunity. In 1995, he put down roots in Bangkok while he simultaneously traveled back and forth between the Middle East and Europe. He established Artinian Co. Ltd. in 1997 and was joined by Saro later that year. “We took what we had—a small wholesale business—and emerged with a multinational group of companies,” he states.

I don’t measure success in financial terms; I consider reputation and trust to be key. The most important thing we now need to focus on is the next generation and how to empower them so that our jewelry legacy can be passed down.

He recalls how Thailand presented the right infrastructure to scale his business and reach a global audience in ways that would have been impossible otherwise. Once again, his low-key and soft-spoken manner makes it look like the process of relocating to a foreign land is far less complex than it must have been back in the late 90s. “Of course, there were some challenges. Language was an issue, as English was not widely spoken, and the culture was very different. Being far away from home, family, friends and everything familiar was also difficult. It took time to get used to things. But what helped us overcome the obstacles was our perseverance and hard work. We conducted ourselves in a certain way, and people soon understood that we were not there temporarily; our goal was to create something long term,” he says.

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Arto Artinian with employees at the Artinian Co. Ltd. factory in Bangkok.

Arto Artinian with employees at the Artinian Co. Ltd. factory in Bangkok.
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Arto Artinian with employees at the Artinian Co. Ltd. factory in Bangkok.

The investment paid off. Twenty-seven years on, Artinian is a name that carries a great deal of weight in the region and global jewelry industry. Regarded as one of the most reputable and sought-after employers in Thailand, the company set up the Artinian Academy in 2023 to empower youngsters and train them in the art of diamond setting and jewelry manufacturing. “We offer a six-month training program—approved by the ministry—to those who want to learn about the industry. We encourage relatives of our employees to enroll, as well as motivated individuals from towns and villages across Thailand. We cover their tuition, accommodation and transportation, introducing them to a better standard of living and the chance to learn vital skills. It’s truly life changing,” he explains.

The academy was inspired by the Artinian brothers’ wish to give back to the community—a meaningful token of gratitude to the nation that welcomed them almost three decades earlier and provided an entry point to new markets and a gateway to growth. Interestingly, the academy recently celebrated the graduation of its first group of students, who have since been employed at his esteemed organization.

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Artinian and his wife Sirin (left) meet with Professor Piyathida Sihawattananakul (right) of Rajamangala University about the 2020 Silk Expo.

Artinian and his wife Sirin (left) meet with Professor Piyathida Sihawattananakul (right) of Rajamangala University about the 2020 Silk Expo.
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Artinian and his wife Sirin (left) meet with Professor Piyathida Sihawattananakul (right) of Rajamangala University about the 2020 Silk Expo.

Just when it looks as though there’s nothing more to add, the multifaceted businessman casually mentions the production facility that was set up in Switzerland four years ago to meet growing demand for the sought-after jewelry Artinian markets in the Middle East, Europe and the United States. Two of the group’s brands include Marli (founded by Maral, who runs Marli’s operations from New York) and Sartoro (combining the names of the two brothers), headquartered in Geneva. It is here that Arto Artinian is set to travel to next. His eye-watering schedule would overwhelm most businesspeople.

It’s a miracle that he has time for much else, but this is a man who appears to defy the odds, epitomizing what a tireless, determined and ambitious individual can accomplish. As the Honorary Consul of the Republic of Armenia to the Kingdom of Thailand, his role encompasses a broad range of responsibilities, from promoting Armenian culture and heritage to the wider public to providing support and assisting Armenian citizens in numerous consular matters. More-over, as the Founding Chairman of the Armenian-Thai Chamber of Commerce, Artinian fosters bilateral Armenian-Thai business relations, promotes visits to Armenia, advocates for Armenian IT and other opportunities. Within the context of the local Armenian community, he says: “Our community may be small, but we have activities throughout the year. Armenian National Day is an annual highlight. We’ve brought traditional folk ensembles from Armenia and had Armenian wine- and brandy-tasting nights.”

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Artinian celebrates the anniversary of the Independence of the Republic of Armenia by giving a consulate speech.

Artinian celebrates the anniversary of the Independence of the Republic of Armenia by giving a consulate speech.
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Artinian celebrates the anniversary of the Independence of the Republic of Armenia by giving a consulate speech.

With exciting projects on the horizon, including the expansion of Sartoro and additional retail shops in the pipeline—notably the upcoming boutique that’s slated to open in Geneva in June 2024—the future shines bright. “I don’t measure success in financial terms; I consider reputation and trust to be key. The most important thing we now need to focus on is the next generation and how to empower them so that our jewelry legacy can be passed down,” he concludes, giving a subtle nod to his late father.

If Arto Artinian’s impeccable track record is anything to go by, he’s bound to find the right formula to ensure the company keeps its brilliant sparkle for decades to come. 

Originally published in the June 2024 ​issue of AGBU Insider. end character

About the AGBU Insider

AGBU Insider profiles extraordinary AGBU program alumni across a diverse set of industries and passions. With exclusive interviews and photography, each issue reveals the Armenian impact on society, community, and industry.