Khosroff Adanalian, Jeweler, Dies at 79

Khosroff Adanalian (Photo courtesy Adanalian family)

Khosroff Adanalian, a jeweler from Winchester, Massachusetts, died on August 6 from complications of congestive heart failure. He was 79 years old.

Khosroff was born on October 7, 1938 in Aleppo, Syria. His mother, Lusiné, fled Urfa with her family and evaded genocide. His father, Garabed, who was a civil engineer, was a native of Aleppo. He grew up on the sidelines of the dust clouds and turbulence of war which ravaged much of the world and plagued millions of people throughout the Middle East. Although his upbringing was not impoverished, he and his siblings learned to do without.

Khosroff received his schooling at the Junior College of the Mkhitarist Order, which he attested was the greatest education a young Armenian raised in Aleppo could have. In subsequent years he would yearn to meet fellow Mkhitarian scholars, and would immediately form a common bond with anyone who shared that identity.

In 1957, his family relocated to Beirut, Lebanon, where he would remain for 12 years. Shortly after the age of 20, Khosroff began to work in various sales-related jobs. For a while he worked as a clerk in a small electronics shop, and once claimed to have sold a wristwatch to the song diva, Fairuz. Later he landed a position with the Jiraco Company, a wholesale manufacturer of jewelry and distributor of Swiss watches throughout the Middle East. After serving in various capacities in the company for many years, he eventually became the chief buyer of watches, traveling to Switzerland and back on a frequent basis. His multicultural education was learned in his travels across Europe by train, car, or on foot. He put his fluency in French to maximum use, and quickly learned German as a supplemental language.

For a short time Khosroff lived in Germany and Switzerland. He saw the need to complete his knowledge of the wristwatch business by learning the craft of watchmaking. In the mid 1960s, he was awarded a sponsorship from the Doxa watch company to complete an intensive watchmaking certification course in Lausanne. He would later use this certification as a key advantage in reselling timepieces and, later on, as a means to earn a steady, reliable income in the United States.

In February 1969, Khosroff became the first from his immediate family to move to the United States and would pave the way for their emigration years later. Shortly after his arrival in Boston he found a well-paying job at a small jewelry store in Brookline’s Washington Square on the watch repair bench. He operated a jewelry store in Patterson, New Jersey for several months before the love of his life, Linda, tempted him back to Boston.

In May 1970, he married Linda of Arlington, the daughter of grocer Hagop Rousyan and his wife Clara, both genocide survivors from Kharpert province. For nearly two years, they lived in a small one-bedroom apartment just above Hagop’s Cedar Market, close to Davis Square in Somerville. Shortly before the birth of their first son Christian in 1972, they relocated to a two-family historical house in Winchester. Khosroff’s second business, Winchester Jewelers, was purchased some months prior to their move.

The couple worked there while simultaneously forming their family until 1975, when the business moved to Lexington and assumed a new name, Jewels At The Mews. That same year their second son, Sevan, was born. Over the years Khosroff earned a high reputation for selling exquisite handmade gold jewelry pieces and being a reseller of Swiss watches, introducing brands such as Raymond Weil and Movado to a customer base that was more acquainted with Timex.

Khosroff was not only an exceptional watchmaker but also a master goldsmith. He was known for creating one-of-a kind handmade pieces from green or yellow 18 karat gold that he himself alloyed. He experimented with light manufacturing by producing jewelry using the lost-wax casting method, something that none of his local competitors was doing at the time.

Khosroff would remain a fixture in Lexington’s business community for over three decades and earned wide respect from local business owners and a dedicated multicultural customer base. In 1993, Khosroff moved his store to Mass Ave, a goal he had set for himself since he arrived in town, and renamed the business Kosroff’s Jewelry. The store closed in 2010.

One of Khosroff’s favorite pastimes was making home renovations. In 1979 he and Linda purchased their second home in a forested Winchester neighborhood near the Lexington line. Just days after moving in Khosroff gripped the sledgehammer and began demolishing the kitchen. Nearly every room in the house would undergo some kind of transformation over the years. Interior and exterior walls were repainted, floors were redone, walls were knocked down, decks were built, a closed balcony constructed, rooms expanded, bathrooms modernized, screen houses erected, patios laid, asphalt paved. He completed nearly all the projects with the assistance of friends and sometimes his sons.

When he was younger Khosroff took pleasure fishing with his brother Jacques on his cruiser in Buzzards Bay during summer weekends. He also enjoyed driving through the New England countryside on Sunday afternoons, usually in search for farm stands. He always bought a few pounds of cucumbers wherever he stopped.

Khosroff was a man of deep convictions and interests. As an impressionable young man Khosroff embraced the socialist platform of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation and served in the party for several years in Lebanon and quite actively in the United States. He was instrumental in the creation of the Hamazkayin Cultural and Educational Society of Boston in the early 1970s which is active to this day. He spoke very fondly of his years as a Homenetmen scout in Aleppo.

But, above all else, he put the interests and comfort of his family first. He loved his mother, father, and siblings dearly, and he cherished his first cousins, who were like brothers and sisters to him. He spoke of them all very fondly, with praise and deep respect.

Khosroff had an encyclopedic memory of Armenian history and culture and was not squeamish about debating circumstances related to Armenia’s past triumphs, losses, and milestones. He appreciated literature and often cited Malkhas’s Zartonk as his favorite work. He was fascinated by practiced as well as outdated religions, especially those related to Zoroastrianism.

Khosroff, with his distinctive moustache, and that Dunhill cigarette permanently affixed between his fingers, was a master conversationalist and could effortlessly speak about myriad topics, from politics to culture to music to world affairs. During the course of a single day it would not be unusual to hear him speak Armenian, English, French, Arabic, and even Turkish with customers and friends in the store. And he had an extraordinary talent for storytelling. His memory was vivid and he could recall events from 30 years prior or longer as if only a day had passed. The stories were more like testimonies and were centered on his countless, sometimes zany, adventures throughout Europe and the Middle East.

Khosroff struck friendships with people from all walks of life and ethnicities. With his female customers, he was debonair and flirty. And his outgoing nature, coupled with his eccentric humor, attracted people from all walks of life, turning the back room of the store into a social club. His gritty, Ernie-like laugh was contagious. His storytelling style was captivating, partly due to his charming accent and the way he told the narrative so fondly, while his thumb caressed the cigarette he held between his crossed hands, as he sat at a table, elbows resting on the surface. He just loved engaging people, and he appreciated being engaged by others and, especially, learning from them.

We are blessed to have loved Khosroff and are grateful to have bathed in the sunlight of his love and benevolence. Khosroff will be remembered for generations in the same way he honored all those so close to him, though the art of storytelling and camaraderie. We rejoice as he embarks on his new journey in serenity.

Khosroff is survived by his wife Linda, his sons Christian and Sevan, his brother Jacques and his family, his sister Meliné and her family, and the many extended members of the Adanalian, Sarkissian, Maghakian, and Chaglassian clans.

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