Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Though wintry weather still has a grip on Turkey, once the cold snap breaks we will pay a visit to Çukurova University Botanical Garden. With grounds covering more than 100-acres, it houses indigenous and international species of flora. Turkey is also home to featured jewelry designer Sevan Biçakçi.

For centuries, Turkey has been the center of many thriving civilizations; Anatolia in particular is a location where people once buried their loved ones with jewelry fashioned from seashells, bone, horns, and teeth.

When the Hittites built their empire in Anatolia, jewelry styles became increasingly sophisticated and ornate, while Sardis developed into a prominent hub for gold jewelry.

In the centuries to follow the cultural aesthetics of Greece, Italy, and what is known today as modern Iran, blended with jewelry designs of filigree and granulation as goddess motifs, coin medallions with luminous gemstones serving as brilliants accents to these splendid pieces.

By the early 1980s, however, in order to compete in the international jewelry market, the distinctive, bold designs of ancient times disappeared as Turkish jewelry designers opted to duplicate more understated European designs.

Today, as Turkey continues to emerge as a viable force in the jewelry industry, brands like Jewel Huse of Minyon have embraced the aesthetic of the ancients with pieces fashioned from exquisite 24-karat gold, gorgeous gemstones, and vivid design quality. Of both Turkish and Armenian ancestry, Biçakçi is among the current wave of jewelry artists who pays splendid homage to his Turkish roots.

Once deemed a mediocre student, Bicakci's influential father shrewdly put his pre-teen son on the road to jewelry making by getting him an apprenticeship with master goldsmith Hovsep Chatak.

Under Chatak's tutelage amidst the bustling energy of Istanbul's Grand Bazaar, for four years Biçakçi would master enameling, engraving, calligraphy, carved intaglio and micro-mosaics. After opening his workshop upon the death of his mentor, Biçakçi trained his own apprentices.

"My work, in part, is based on stories form the culture of Anatolia, that includes a sacred mountain called Mount Ida," he says. "I am inspired by ancient places so I am following my dream to make my jewelry historical. Having a mass appeal has never been a point of interest in the jewelry I design."

His company officially launched in 2002, and the designer focuses almost exclusively on one-of-a-kind, spectacular rings reminiscent of Dian Malouf (USA), and Angela Hübel (Germany). Each ring takes from three months to one year to complete.

"I have a ring obsession," says Biçakçi, "They are very important in Turkey as they are the mirrors of the personality of the wearer." These pieces are grand, elaborate and beautifully detailed fashioned from composites of sterling silver, 18- and 24-karat gold, tourmaline, pearls, lemon topaz, diamonds, and sapphires.

Many ring settings appear to be clear glass domes encasing intricately carved porcelain designs of doves, ladybugs, peacock feathers, or a tiny, ancient city. It is something akin to a miniaturized snow globe; accented with bold, jewel-encrusted shanks.

The overall result is like a magnificent enchanted ring from an imaginary fairytale world of witches and wizards. In fact, there is even a ring in the form of a simulated bitten apple.

"I do not limit the materials I use to create my pieces. The people who wear my jewelry have found a connection in the design and detail that goes into my work. I am happy with the response my jewelry gets," he says.

The celebs who are drawn to Bicakci's dramatic jewelry items are Brooke Shields, Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, Celine Dion, Halle Berry, and Mariah Carey.
Photo 1 (top right): Unnamed Ornate Ring
Photo 2 (bottom left): 24-Karat Gold Jewel Encrusted Dome Ring
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