Born in Quincy, Massachusetts, Armand Zildjian was the scion of a cymbals-making tradition that dated back to his ancestor Avedis, who began the company in 1623 in Constantinople. By family tradition, the secrets of cymbals making were passed on only to the oldest son, but Armand's father, Avedis Zildjian III, gave the information to both of his sons, Armand and Robert. This began a legal battle which ended only when Robert formed the Sabian Cymbals Company, in competition with his brother.
Armand Zildjian attended Colgate University, and served with the United States Coast Guard in the Pacific during World War II. After the war, he returned to his father's factory in Norwell, Massachusetts, where, with the help of such music business stars as Chieck Webb and Gene Krupa, he revolutionized the cymbals business by adding them to drum sets and making them thinner.
Zildjian has an honorary degree from Berklee College of Music, is an inductee into the Percussive Hall of Fame, and has his name immortalized on the Guitar Center Rock Walk in Hollywood, California.
With only a daughter Craigie as his heir, Armand made her chief executive of Zildjian Cymbals in 1999.