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Diamonds for those in the rough

Local jeweler gives out 100 heart-shaped necklaces

Posted: February 10, 2009 1:34 a.m.
Updated: February 10, 2009 4:30 a.m.

Classic Designs Jewelry store in Valencia is giving-out 100 free sterling silver heart shaped necklaces.

A Valencia jeweler is providing the silver lining to 100 dark clouds.

Apo Yessayan, owner of Classic Designs Jewelry, is personally giving away up to 100 sterling silver diamond heart pendant necklaces to residents who lost a job or a home.

"He was really, really nice about it," said Valencia resident John Hardin.

Hardin swallowed his pride Monday when he showed up just before the jewelry store opened to be the first to take advantage of the offer that began Monday and goes through Valentine's Day.

The recipient must show proof of being unemployed or proof of the loss of a home, along with a valid driver's license. Hardin said it's a generous gesture considering the necklaces retail for up to $290 each and come in a gift-wrapped velvet box.

"My first inclination was to ignore the giveaway. I'm not someone who usually takes handouts, but I knew I had to do something special for my understanding girlfriend," explained Hardin, a 50-year-old construction superintendent who was laid off 18 months ago from a residential restoration company and has been looking for work ever since.

"It's never taken me longer than two weeks to find another job," he said.

Despite his efforts to promote his small business, J.W. Handyman Services, and sending out close to 600 resumes, Hardin has now maxed out his unemployment benefits and recently had his work truck repossessed.

He is just one of many local residents facing tough times.

"We understand that the economy is hurting people in the community, and we are a part of the community. We want to help out, plain and simple," Yessayan said. "It's a way of saying thank you for supporting our local business and a small way of giving back."

Originally from Lebanon, Yessayan has lived in Santa Clarita since 1988 and has been a jeweler since he was 13 years old.

He and his wife raised their two children in Santa Clarita.

"I can't picture living any place else," he said.

"It takes a person with a generous heart," Hardin said, "to do something like this for people. I've never run into this situation before and to see someone going out of his way and sacrificing his own profit for other people makes me feel more upbeat."

Hardin thought his long-time girlfriend, Carol Mumford, would react well to her Valentine's Day gift.

"Well, it will probably keep me out of the dog house," he said. "At least for a little while."

Yessayan and 45 other members of the Independent Jewelers Organization across the country are making the offer.

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