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Turkish delights: The ringmaster

Money can’t buy love, but with a Sevan Bicakci ring you might sway Cupid’s arrow in your favour

  • By Pauline M. Forte, Staff Reporter
  • Published: 08:59 February 12, 2009
  • XPRESS

  • Image Credit: XPRESS/Abdel-Krime Kallouche
  • Sevan Bicakci displaying rings from his new Mythological Collection, comprising one-of-a-kind rings, bracelets, earrings and cuff links
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If you're thinking about giving your significant other a unique piece of jewellery this Valentine's Day and have a great deal of money to spend, consider the new Mythology Collection by Turkish jewellery maker Sevan Bicakci.

Seven years ago, Bicakci, 37, now known as the King of Rings, introduced his distinctive creations to the world. Today, his intricate and heavy-looking pieces of art are in the hands of prominent collectors and worn by such celebrities as Celine Dion, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Halle Berry and Brooke Shields.

Bicakci recently launched the collection at his Sevan Boutique at Wafi City. The collection, comprising 70 one-of-a-kind rings, bracelets, earrings and cuff links, is based on the story of his mother's Ottoman-Byzantine culture. “My work is also based on stories that come from the culture of Anatolia, including two sacred mountains called Mount Ida in Greek mythology [also named Mount of the Goddess], now in northwest Turkey.''

Inspiration

Indeed, his jewels resemble miniature Greek monuments such as temples, and incorporate designs and elements of Byzantine and Ottoman palaces, churches, mosques, fountains and mausoleums, all found in Istanbul where he grew up.

“Old places inspire me,'' said the talented goldsmith, who integrates words from the Ottoman, Arabic and Farsi languages in many of his rings and cuff links. The pieces from his latest collection, ranging from Dh38,000 to “no maximum'', are named after mythological figures and places such as Dionysos, Asil and Hector, Senato, Herkul, Agamemnon and Priamos.

“I don't put any limits on the materials I use,'' he said. “I use what matches with my character, including platinum, 18K and 24K gold, silver, rose gold, ivory, mother-of-pearl, rose-cut diamonds, rubies, amber and coloured gemstones.''

He often collaborates with talented miniature painters, calligraphers, sculptors and engraving masters for his inlays of tortoise shell, mother-of-pearl and stained glass. When he was 12, it became clear that Bicakci wasn't a successful student. After finishing the fifth grade, his father (a theatre actor), helped him find a job as an apprentice to master goldsmith Hovsep Chatak in the Grand Bazaar district of Istanbul.

Early start

Four years later, his master died and, having learned a great deal about jewellery design and craftsmanship, the young talent opened a workshop serving bigger manufacturers as a freelance model maker. But he wasn't pushing his creative limits in terms of design. “That's when I decided to follow my dream to make something historical,'' Bicakci said.

He began teaching the various aspects of the trade to about 40 apprentices and worked on his first collection for one year before unveiling it in the Turkish market in 2002. The fact that most of his work is uniquely crafted and the production is time-consuming prevents Bicakci from mass production.

Now, the Turkish-Armenian ring master is famous from Anatolia to the New World. His wearable works of the past are distributed and sold worldwide.

His love for jewellery making is linked to his second passion – motorcycles. “I like to be alone and free. When I produce jewellery, I don't follow any rules. They're heavy. They don't fit,'' he said.

Fast facts

  • Bicakci's jewels cost between Dh38,000 and Dh500,000 (“no maximum really'').
  • The Mythology Collection is touring the world: from Istanbul, Turkey, to Dubai, the US and Italy.

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