Avi Raz of A & Z Pearls, importers of cultured pearls and manufacturers of pearl jewelry has been serving the industry for more than 30 years. Unlike a large percentage of those working in the jewelry industry today, he was not “born into” the business, but rather he became a part of it out of sheer love of the amazing gem of the sea, the cultured pearl.
Growing up in a military family in Israel, his parents owned a large vineyard where they grew grapes for wine production. Avi remembers spending many hours helping in the vineyards, and while he still enjoys a nice glass of wine sometimes, there was certainly no connection to the pearl business. That didn’t come till later.
As required in Israel, Avi served in the army in the Artillery Corp and was honorably discharged with the rank of major. After serving, Avi immigrated to the U.S. to study at Cal Poly University where he graduated with a degree in Industrial and Mechanical Engineering. He continued his education and received his Masters Degree in Engineering from the same university.
After graduation, Avi eventually took a job with Flying Tigers, an air cargo company that was later acquired by Federal Express. His position as Director of Operations for Flying Tigers in the Far East from 1975-1981 was a position that changed the course of his life and career forever.
While living in Japan, working for a big corporation with bosses and office politics, Avi started thinking that he didn’t really want to continue working for someone else, but rather start something on his own and be in control of his and his family’s destiny. Around the same time Avi was introduced to a gentleman who was in the pearl business and they became friends. As their friendship grew, Avi became more interested in what his friend was doing and eventually started meeting in the evenings and learning everything he could about cultured pearls and the pearl business. Before long, much to the astonishment of many, Avi resigned from his position at Flying Tigers, armed with a suitcase full of Japanese Akoya cultured pearls and returned to the United States to start his own pearl importing company. And that is how A &Z Pearls was born.
In the early years, A & Z Pearls was strictly an akoya house. Situated in the International Jewelry Center in the heart of Los Angeles’s jewelry district, Avi began his career selling only very fine Japanese Akoya strands and loose Japanese Akoya pearls, soon adding basic clasps and classic pearl jewelry. Gradually as popularity and demand increased, A & Z Pearls moved with the trends and started to expand the line to include South Sea and Tahitian cultured pearls and eventually including very fine quality freshwater cultured pearls as well.
Sometime in the mid 1980’s Avi started to play his hand at designing and slowly added a collection of finished jewelry pieces. Today A & Z Pearls carries more than 500 different styles and designs of cultured pearl jewelry, many award winning pieces among them. Over the years, Avi Raz has won awards in The Jewelers of America’s Design Competition twice, The American Pearl Vision Award twice, The AGTA Spectrum Awards, The MJSA American Vision Award, The Japanese Pearl Export Association Design Competition, The JCK Jeweler’s Choice Awards as well as two different accolades from Perles de Tahiti’s Tahitian Trophy.
As active members of the Cultured Pearl Association of America, The American Gem Trade Association and the Jewelers Board of Trade, A & Z Pearls has attained a very positive reputation in the industry. Providing the highest level of customer service possible, A & Z Pearls always delivers a high quality product at a great value. You will always find a great selection of pearl strands, Japanese Akoya, White South Sea, Golden South Sea, Black Tahitian, large Baroque freshwater, round Chinese freshwater as well as an extensive collection of clasps in both 14K and 18K gold. In addition, one of the largest collections of cultured pearl jewelry from an award winning designer, available under one roof. With more than three decades experience in the pearl industry It is comforting to know that all of our customers are able to purchase with confidence knowing we are both knowledgeable and trustworthy.
“Your Source For Cultured Pearls and Cultured Pearl Jewelry”