Turkish Jewelry is one of the world’s foremost jewelry styles. As the art of jewelry was literally born and developed in the lands now called the Republic of Turkey, Turkish jewelry has a long and rich legacy. Today, we will give you a brief overview of the history and culture surrounding this beautiful artform.
A Legacy Born 5,000 Years Ago and Preserved Today
Turkish Jewelry means jewelry that is made in what is now the Republic of Turkey by Master Jewelers utilizing methods handed down through the ages. The Masters themselves are from all ethnic groups that traditionally have lived in Anatolia - the most famous being the indigenous Armenians. The Kingdom of Urartu, located in the Armenian Highlands in what is now Eastern Turkey, invented techniques that are still used in jewelry making today - casting and forging. Urartians used metals popular in Turkish jewelry today like silver, copper, gold, iron, and lead. Twenty types of stones were used as well on pieces for the head, neck, leg, hand, and leg. With the arrival of the Ottoman Sultans, the Istanbul Grand Bazaar was established in 1455 outside the gates of the palace on what is still known as Istanbul’s Golden Horn. While goods from all over the empire were offered for sale, the most famous and prestigious section of the bazaar was, to no surprise, Ic Bedesten - where jewelry was sold. We also know that a premier center of jewelry production was established within the palace itself. According to official government documents from the 1500s, there were over 90 jewelers employed by the Sultan at the time alone! This time period - in the 16th century - is considered the golden era of jewelry making and many current famous and popular designs today are still from this time period.
Setting Itself Apart
At the forefront, Turkish jewelry is known for its unique style and use of gemstones. Popular gemstones in Turkish jewelry today include stones like ruby, emerald sapphires, turquoise, chalcedony and agate. Another defining characteristic has to do with the metal. A unique trait is that the metal is oxidized, drawing your eyes to the fine details. This type of darkening will give an authentic look to the pieces - a must for this antique jewelry style. Women’s Turkish Jewelry will often feature stones such as emerald, sapphire, and ruby while men’s turkish jewelry will often feature stones such as agate, tiger’s eye, and turquoise. Both men and women’s Turkish jewelry is classically popular, due to the legacy of the Ottoman Sultans. We already know the 16th century is considered the golden era, but it should be known that each Ottoman Sultan had their own jewelers and workshops in the palace to craft pieces for the Sultan himself, the members of the Sultan’s Harem (women), and as gifts for dignitaries and more. Hence, we have a huge historical record of pieces made in Turkey and now in Museums and private collections around the world.
A Master Artisan
To be considered a Master Jeweler, one must go through years of apprenticeship and training in the art form and many jewelers have a long history of jewelers in their families. A young apprentice will begin while still in Primary or Secondary (high school) school - often in a role akin to a janitor. They will slowly be introduced and taught different skills to find their specialty. This journey often takes many years. As is true with any profession, it takes upwards of 10,000 hours of honing a particular skill in order to be considered a Master Jeweler. These Masters, in turn, then begin to train apprentices under them and the process starts once more. The center of Turkish Jewelry today is still in Istanbul, in the area including Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar and surrounding it. There is both handmade and factory made jewelry available from all over the country made by and with businesses helmed by Masters of the craft.
Grand Bazaar Jewelers
Jewelry is one of Turkey’s top sectors. In fact, Turkey consistently ranks among the top 5 producers in the world in the jewelry industry. Over 250,000 people in the country are employed in the sector. It is not surprising then that you can find Turkish jewelry on Amazon and other marketplaces. In Istanbul, you can find boutique jewelry shops for special, one of a kind pieces along with lots of wholesalers and jewelry supply stores. Many of these shops have been known by word of mouth only until now. In fact, entire families in Turkey might only go to one particular jeweler they trust down one of the many narrow, labyrinth streets that are typical of the Grand Bazaar and its vicinity. Now, thanks to TurkishJewelry.com, we are consolidating all of this information and showcasing it for the world. Enjoy and get lost in the splendor that is our unique artform.