A veritable treasure trove hides in the heart of the city, a jewellery shop-cum-art gallery that can only be compared to the mythical Ali Baba's cave. But calling 'Open Sesame!' outside the doors of Lapidarius will not work. Ring the bell, and a shrill buzzer grants entry to a world like no other. Presiding over its 1000 sq. ft., 'full like an egg', is Maged Taraboulsy, assisted by his keen-eyed researcher Dalou Boutari. Although the name of the store refers to gems(from Old French meaning"one skilled in working with precious stones"), there is no limit to the kinds of 'beautiful things' that three generations of the Taraboulsy family has collected. Antiques from four corners of the world, ancient coins and fine silver, Japanese netsuke and intricate Chinese sculptures, jewellery aglitter in sparkling duels with giant crystal chandeliers suspended from the ceiling like precious stalactites. And on the walls, hanging salon style, dozens and dozens of paintings, art by Canadian and international artists, mingling styles and epochs in a one-of-a-kind visual kaleidoscope.
The history of Lapidarius begins in 1919 in Alexandria, Egypt,and ends in Montreal, where Maged continues the family tradition to this day.Located now on Greene Avenue in Westmount, it has outlasted numerous other stores and art galleries, closing almost daily.
What is Taraboulsy's secret of enduring success? "Reputation," is his immediate answer. For what hides beyond all the antiques and art, are human stories, lives that ebb and pass, leaving behind objects imbued with profound emotional component. Since well over 40 years Lapidarius specialises in estate sales, accumulating in the process an impressive list ofcustomers, for many of whom Taraboulsy becomes a de facto guardian of their past and memories.
Guided by what he calls the 'ethics of the souk', where respect for the individual and trust in the innate goodness of human nature is key to any transaction, he is courteous and patient with everyone.Many of the tales in Taraboulsy book of life speak of loss, for not all the pieces brought to him for evaluation meet the standard. But there are also stories of unexpected windfalls, as when a customer showed up with three Chinese watercolours he had purchased in 1968 for $6,800, and uncertain of their actual value, asked the owner to "see if we can get our money back." After the prerequisite research and international communications, Lapidarius sold them in China for a cool $ 1 million!
But at 71, Maged insists he has 'cut the umbilical' cord with the merchandise, and while still enjoying his work, he will tell you not to get attached to things, for as an Arab proverb notes: All earthly goods we have on loan.



1312 Greene Ave
Westmount, QC
www.lapidarius.com(lien externe)