Monday, October 25, 2010


The Turkish city of Bodrum is a great place to visit ancient architectural wonders including the “open-air” Amphitheatre museum, the Castle of St. Peter, and the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus. Turkey is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Fatma Oya Borahan.

In my mind handmade jewelry designs seem to hold a great sense of artistic integrity. The organic, free flowing design quality triggers feelings in me akin to whenever I smell the aroma of a homemade apple pie.

There is something homey and comforting about knowing that materials are carefully selected by hand and then cultivated by hand.

The Canada-based designer’s stunning links of crystal beads, gemstone necklaces, gemstone pendants, and 18-karat gold pieces possess warmth that goes beyond the myriad of gemstone and bead colors.

The 70-year-old artisan began her design career as a painter; painting fluid, colorful designs on silk. This outlet would then evolve into the designer painting scenery on silk scarves that ultimately led to a corresponding interest in jewelry.

“When I became interested in jewelry making and jewelry design, I began creating scarf clips for the silk scarves I was painting,” says Borahan. “I enjoyed making unique designs for the scarves so much that my art transposed into fabricating unique jewelry based on the designs and patterns of my scarves.”

While Borahan hand fabricated sterling silver and 18-karat gold into fashionable jewelry she took note of a missing element, gemstones.

Determined to carve and cut the raw gemstones she sourced over a twelve-year period, starting in 1992, the designer enrolled and completed a correspondence course with the Gemological Institute of America (GIA); and she received gemology diplomas from the German Gemmological Association (DGemA) and the Gemmological Institute of Great Britain (GemA).

Borahan says this of her time studying in Idar-Oberstein, Germany “I learned gem carving from Hans Ulrich Pauly, and stone cutting from Hans G. Gordner. I hoped that some of their artistic talent rubbed off onto me.

In my opinion, Hans Ulrich Pauly is one of the most talented artists around. I was the happiest person in the world when he accepted to teach me.”

Borahan’s aesthetic is not limited to one style as she alternates between minimalist and sophisticated to chunky and bold to organic and abstract. Some metal pieces are regal and powerful while other designs are interspersed with twined cord, wire wrap and crocheted metal wire providing a gorgeous array of looks.

Maintaining a settled, peaceful temperament and utilizing “green” sensibilities is central to her creation process. “My bedroom is right next to my workshop; so in the middle of the night, whenever I had an idea, I would get up and draw it or write notes,” she says.

“One time while doing some metalwork, there was a piece of gold left over that I did not know what to do with so I melted it down, pushed in the middle and set a garnet in it. I don’t throw away what I don’t use.

I also believe that a sound knowledge of one’s merchandise and gemology is paramount in order to effectively serve customers. Over the years, it has become my belief that some jewelers misinform their customers not as an act of deception but rather as a result of ignorance about their materials.”

Presently, the semi-retired Borahan conducts seminars for members of the Montreal Gem and Mineral Club.

Though her website includes a great photo gallery of jewelry pieces, it appears the website serves more as a place for the designer to share her culmination of knowledge and not necessarily as a conduit to sell her jewelry.
Photo 1 (top right): Rose Quartz Briolette Pendant with Quartz Beads
Photo 2 (center): 18-Karat Gold Black Onyx Necklace
Photo 3 (bottom left): Sterling Silver Necklace with Transparent and Pink Beads
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