The Byzantine Emperor & the Ottoman Sultan, meet Alice in Wonderland…
I first encountered the microscopic masterpieces of Sevan Bıçakçı more than 10 years ago… I fell under the spell immediately! I have been following his work ever since.
During my trip to Constantinople last February, I made a point of visiting his minimal and yet majestic boutique at Zorlu Centre for window shopping (!), and I was pleasantly greeted by the most courteous staff (and not at all snob may I add!).
A short biography
“I wanted to capture the flavour, the memory, the sensations of Constantinople in a jewel.”
Sevan Bıçakçı is of Armenian descent and considered a “star jeweller” in Turkey, with many awards. He started his journey as a jeweler when he was only 12 years old as an intern in Hovsep Çatak’s workshop. It all started out of desperation. Witnessing his challenges with school education as a hyper kid, his father decided to ask their neighbour and close friend Hovsep Çatak to give him a chance for internship in his jewellery workshop. It indeed turned out to be the right kind of environment for him to learn a craft by watching and doing. He discovered his passion to become a jewellery designer much later, when he found himself on his own, as a struggling model maker. Accepting to create moulds or wax models according to other people’s designs, was one thing that grew boring quite fast, as most of the commissions were in fact heavily inspired by other designers work.
His first personal collection, that he created in 2002, was inspired by the historical Grand Bazaar – Sultanahmet area where he spends a considerable part of his daily life. Since then his unique designs, that require intensive craftsmanship, have been attracting the attention of collectors as well as some of the most distinguished stores. A wider range of the designer’s collections are on display in his boutiques located in Miami and Constantinople.
Life in the Grand Bazaar has trained him to keep his imagination wide open. His desire is for his work to be both rich with layers and convey messages of joy and peace.
Sevan is more than friends with many of his collector-clients, like a co-parent of all the jewels, having a lot of fun in the process! He borrows some of the jewellery back from time to time for exhibitions or photo shoot purposes. Nonetheless, he is not willing to divulge the names of his elite clientele, although the list also includes some very famous international personalities!
An admirer of Carl Fabergé and René Lalique, he does not like to use 14 and 18K gold and modern (brilliant) cut diamonds. He likes his work to look ancient, yet ageless, and uses a long list of genuine things from bones to rough diamonds.
His atelier is located one minute away from Grand Bazaar, ten minutes away from Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque, in a six storey building. 80% of an entire floor area is dedicated to craft activities. The rest is a gallery space where some of the work is exhibited while serving as entertainment space for the guests. Half of one floor is dedicated to experimentations only. The remaining ones are all dedicated to production.
His success turned to a magnet for domestic talents. He works with goldsmiths, silversmiths, sculptors, painters, carvers, mosaic-setters and calligraphers, each contributing his craft to a piece of jewellery. They are willing to devote a considerable amount of time to each single piece and go to extreme levels of attention to detail. The aim is to take the craft skills and techniques to the next level, thus revealing even more elaborate stories. Reverse intaglio carving is just one of the complex techniques, and very typically, it asks for a remarkable amount of working hours and gemstones, as many executions end up not qualifying for eventual use. If time is money, in Sevan Bıçakçı’s case, it can only be the other way around: The longer the time, the better the value…
For Seven Bıçakçı rings are important and he mostly works with them. Rings work more or less like crowns. They used to be objects of kings kissed by other defeated rulers, thus having a big importance. It was also clear from the beginning that Hagia Sophia’s voluptuous, curved form, would influence his rings, as it still does. He also loves free birds because they cannot be restricted to live within borders. Both reflect the spirit of Constantinople before anything else…
One thing is for certain, his rings are on the top of my bucket list, next to the Patek Philippe watch and the Hermes bag…
There is also a beautiful coffee table book featuring his work, published by Assouline.
Sevan Bıçakçı Grand Bazaar, Sevan Bıçakçı Zorlu Center, Sevan Bıçakçı Miami Design District, Sevan Bıçakçı Ankara