LORD OF THE RINGS

Draw­ing in­spi­ra­tion from Turk­ish cul­ture, fairy tales and mythol­ogy, Se­van Biçakçi spe­cialises in cre­at­ing op­u­lent state­ment jew­ellery hand­crafted to the finest de­tail. Sara Yap finds out more

Adore Gems & Timepieces - - CONTENTS -

Se­van Biçakçi and his fan­tas­ti­cal be­jew­elled cre­ations

Big, bold and beau­ti­ful — th­ese are some of the words that aptly sum up Turk­ish jew­eller Se­van Biçakçi’s flam­boy­ant de­signs. His cre­ations range from chunky domed rings be­decked with vivid pre­cious stones such as rock crys­tals and amethysts, to ear­rings and pen­dants em­bel­lished with flo­ral mo­tifs. Among his sig­na­ture pieces are state­ment rings en­cas­ing in­tri­cate carv­ings of Is­tan­bul’s iconic Ha­gia Sophia — which started as a church be­fore con­vert­ing to an im­pe­rial mosque and is now a mu­seum.

“The Ha­gia Sophia is the mother of all the big sul­tan mosques, so she is a key fo­cus of Is­tan­bul,” ex­plains the 50-year-old. He adds: “I wanted to cre­ate a style that could re­flect the soul of my en­vi­ron­ment.” Other re­cur­ring mo­tifs in his eye-pop­ping cre­ations in­clude mon­u­ments, an­i­mals and flow­ers. There is the Hasankeyf ring set in gold and sil­ver that draws in­spi­ra­tion from the Zeynel Bey Mau­soleum in the an­cient city of Hasankeyf. The over­sized stun­ner en­closes a carv­ing of the mau­soleum within its cit­rine cen­tre stone, and is fes­tooned with di­a­monds and turquoise mo­saic de­tails.

Also note­wor­thy is Heaven’s Gate, a dou­ble-fin­ger ring set in gold and sil­ver, and sculpted to re­sem­ble two swans. Mounted with di­a­monds and a 4.73-ct rose-cut di­a­mond cen­tre, its smoky quartz cabo­chon is in­versely en­graved with ex­quis­ite flo­ral mo­tifs sym­bol­is­ing the Garden of Eden. “I would de­scribe my style as Sul­tan meets Alice in Won­der­land and the sto­ries of One Thou­sand and One Nights”, says Biçakçi. “I get my in­spi­ra­tion from so many [sources] — fairy tales, leg­ends and even Greek mythol­ogy.” His Athena ring, for in­stance, is named af­ter the Greek god­dess and is a strik­ing com­bi­na­tion of gold, sil­ver, di­a­monds and a mo­saic of turquoise and jet as­sem­bled to re­sem­ble an owl’s face. Capped with a glit­ter­ing 3.62-ct rose-cut di­a­mond and a smoky quartz with in­versely en­graved owl mo­tifs, the quirky ring is un­apolo­get­i­cally at­ten­tion-grab­bing.

“I WOULD DE­SCRIBE MY STYLE AS SUL­TAN MEETS ALICE IN WON­DER­LAND” –SE­VAN BIÇAKÇI

All of Biçakçi’s jew­els are one-of-akind pieces and are crafted in 24k gold and ster­ling sil­ver, and typ­i­cally swathed in rose­and an­tique-cut di­a­monds. While pop­u­lar gem­stones such as tour­ma­lines, tan­zan­ites, emer­alds and ru­bies are preva­lent in his de­signs, he is also fond of rare rocks in­clud­ing kun­zites and zul­tan­ites. Some of his cre­ations in­cor­po­rate un­usual ma­te­ri­als the likes of camel and mam­moth bones. “Any­thing that Mother Na­ture pro­vides is wel­comed,” says Biçakçi, adding that he doesn’t use items that are en­dan­gered or pro­tected. Ev­ery­thing is pro­duced at his ate­lier lo­cated near Is­tan­bul’s Grand Bazaar. There, he and his team of sculp­tors, painters and cal­lig­ra­phers churn out some 500 pieces each year.

But what truly sets Biçakçi apart from other jew­ellers is his sig­na­ture in­taglio tech­nique, where pat­terns are metic­u­lously carved into the re­verse side of a pre­cious stone, so they pro­trude in a three­d­i­men­sional ef­fect. Achiev­ing this, how­ever, is a time-con­sum­ing af­fair that re­quires a min­i­mum of eight weeks to com­plete each ring, as ev­ery de­tail has to be care­fully and painstak­ingly hand­crafted. The process is also a del­i­cate one: Too much pres­sure and the gems may shat­ter. This is es­pe­cially so for frag­ile gem­stones such as emer­alds. “It’s ab­so­lutely risky busi­ness to carve any­thing into emer­alds. The prob­a­bil­ity of crack­ing the stone is so high, be­cause they al­ready have cracks in­side…once you hit the in­clu­sion in­side and it breaks, it’s over,” says Biçakçi, adding that he “sac­ri­fices” an av­er­age of eight gem­stones for ev­ery ring. Once, he had to dis­card more than half of a 150-ct Columbian emerald be­cause it cracked dur­ing the en­grav­ing stage.

Other tech­niques that fea­ture promi­nently in his work in­clude metal-based paint­ing and mi­cro-mo­saic set­ting — while tiny tiles made from pre­cious stones are ar­ranged like a mo­saic around the ring’s dome. While rings are the main high­light of his reper­toire, Biçakçi also de­signs ear­rings and pen­dants. One par­tic­u­larly op­u­lent piece is his Mes­sen­ger pen­dant, which is stud­ded with di­a­monds and set with an amethyst en­graved with a dove in­taglio. “Jew­ellery has to be unique and pow­er­ful,” he says.

De­spite his small-scale busi­ness, his gor­geous jew­els have gained a cult fol­low­ing among celebri­ties such as ac­tresses Brooke Shields, Cather­ine Zeta-jones and Gwyneth Pal­trow, and fash­ion de­signer Tory Burch. But Biçakçi, who started out at 12 when he worked for Ar­me­nian jew­eller Hovsep Chatak as an ap­pren­tice, re­mains hum­ble. There’s still a lot more to learn, he says. “The mo­ment you think you’ve be­come a master, you start go­ing down­hill.”

From left: Athena ring, Hasankeyf ring

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