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The Starfish was inspired by


the artist's interest in the
famous book 20,000 Leagues
Under the Sea and is part of a
one-off collection of
jewels.
Sevan Bicakci at his workshop where he
and his team work on the ever growing
collection where all the pieces are
unique and one of a kind.

Sevan Bicakci:

Crafting
stories
from Istanbul
By DEBRINA ALIYAH
dreamer, creator, storyteller, visionary,
craftsman and, finally, a jeweler. That
is Sevan Bicakci, and before you put
on a piece of his jewelry, put on your
imaginative cap and enter the magical
realm of his inspirations that will take
you through the romance and rich
history of Istanbul and beyond. The
age-old tales of Ottoman pirates and
sultans, the stunning architecture of
the Pantokrator church, the legends
of Greek gods and the awe-inspiring
Turkish skies are vividly recreated in each
unique piece of his work. One can spend hours
admiring the delicate and precise details of the
collection while immersing in the stories behind
the creation of each masterpiece. Beyond
the artistry and fine craftsmanship of every
gemstone and metal lies the window to the soul
of the man himself.
Bicakci grew up surrounded by the resonant
facets of history and culture of the captivating

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city of Istanbul. A convergence of two


continents, the melting pot of influences is the
vital link of inspiration in his works, capturing
the eras of the country from one dynasty
to another and from mythological beliefs
to monolithic religions. As a young boy, his
mind had already envisioned the world from
a multitude of perspectives and was eager to
bring his illusions to life. At the tender age of 12,
he interned at a local jewelry shop only to learn
the constant animosity between the process
of creative design and physical production.
An experimental person by nature, he found
that he could not fulfill his creative ventures
with traditional goldsmithing techniques,
and neither was the industry ready to take on
his wildly fanciful designs. After decades of
working in the system, Sevan finally decided to
spread his wings and take flight on what would
become a life-changing journey, not only for
him but also for the world of haute jewelry.
Frustration and the need to prove the world

The Camel features an


intaglio method of
reverse crafting the
camel design in the
stone and inspired by
the deserts of the
Middle East region.

The Fisher King is crafted using


gold, yellow, pink and brown
diamonds as well as a South Sea
Pearl as the centrepiece.

wrong were what drove him to begin creating his own


collection, and in 2001 he began to bring his own visions to
life. He experimented and created new production techniques
just so he could achieve the idea of what he wanted.
"A year later, we had about 50 rings in our collection,
produced on borrowed capital, and it was a tumultuous ride
for the next three years," said Emre Dilaver, Creative Director
of the brand.
Using an extremely complicated and resource-driven
technique called 'intaglio', where the gemstones are reverse
hand-carved, Bicakci hollowed out gemstones to create
his desired designs from inside the stones. The process is
difficult as the craftsman cannot see from the surface what
is happening inside the gems, and on average they have to
work on about eight pieces of stone before achieving the
desired outcome. Within these stones, Bicakci brought to life
the sights and sounds of Istanbul, from swans to mosques,
creating jewelry pieces that carry the story and soul of the city.
His designs were cutting-edge, the process he used was not
familiar to the traditional Turkish jewelers, and he had a hard
time convincing anyone to help sell his pieces.
"It was a tough time for us, battling against a traditional
structure. The jewelers thought our pieces were too big and
too ornate to be worn, but the media loved us. The media
recognized that here was a man who wanted to show the
world the essence and spirit of the vibrant environment that
surrounds us," explained Dilaver.
In 2005 the turning point came for the misunderstood
creative artist and his team. They received an inaugural
international order from Barneys New York and were invited
to participate in the annual Las Vegas Couture Jewelry
Collection and Conference. It was also an important personal
milestone for the mildly shy Bicakci as it was his first time
out of Turkey. At the conference, one of his designs won the
coveted Couture Jewelry Design Award. His designs and their
stories resonated loudly to the world and he has won the same
award five times since.
From odds and ends
Bicakci currently has approximately one hundred people

The Birth of Athena is inspired by


the Greek goddess Athena and
depicted in this piece is the axe
of Hephaestus. In the Greek
legends, Athena was born out of
Zeus' head by Hephaestus, who
split his skull with his axe.

working in his workshop and he continues to collaborate with


craftsmen who have interesting materials to offer. Besides
working with conventional jewelry components, he has also
incorporated intriguing materials into his pieces including
camel bones, sand and mosaic tiles. The significance of these
materials is in tandem with the inspirations behind the pieces.
For example, sand was inserted into a gemstone as a base for
the carving of a camel to rest on.
From his difficult and humble beginnings, Bicakci now has
the world as his stage to unleash his creative intellect. His
undying love for his home city provokes his continuous work
in spinning the webs of cultural stories and legends into
his masterpieces, making him an unofficial ambassador of
Istanbul to the world. Avid collectors began snapping up
his pieces both as works of art and as jewelry. Celebrated
personalities including Brooke Shields, Lady Gaga, Catherine
Zeta Jones, Elizabeth Hurley, Mariah Carey and Celine Dion
have been seen wearing his artwork. On the international
fashion stage, he became a cult haute jeweler who was
recognizable only to the connoisseurs. He had reinvented the
wheel of haute jewelry from an eclectic perspective that no
one had even dreamt of before.
"The view on jewelry has changed both in Istanbul and
around the world because of Bicakci's whimsical imagination
and drive to achieve the impossible," added Dilaver. "Our
work is extremely time-consuming and cultivated and it
took a long time before people understood what we do. It
is all about telling stories and craftsmanship. Every week,
we brainstorm and share our experience and see if we can
be inspired from any of the concepts, and we move on from
there.
"You can find our collection in Dubai, Harrods of London,
Barneys New York, a gallery in Puerto Rico, Harvey Nichols
and our stores in W Istanbul. Our customers are a wellconnected network of enthusiasts who truly understand
and appreciate the art thanks to some of our retailers who
continuously educate customers in the stories behind each
piece of work. An interesting thing to note is that somehow
people who buy Sevans pieces will eventually find their way
to Istanbul to meet the man himself."

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