Rose-cut diamond and citrine earrings
I have always considered the French the finest jewellers in the world, until I visited Turkey a few months ago. I quickly discovered that the country has a long standing and renowned tradition in jewellery making. In fact many of the artisans working at the hallowed maisons of Place Vendome in Paris were trained with the best in Turkey.
The centre of the industry can be found in the city’s historic Grand Bazaar, which is also home to the workshops of the country’s finest jewellers, Gilan. Gilan may not be a name that is as instantly recognisable but its jewels embody a unique heritage and beauty. It’s been a favourite with royalty and insiders for years and has recently been spotted on celebrities including Salma Hayek, Ziyi Zhang, Lucy Liu and Alicia Keys.
The Cintemani collection
Established in 1980, Gilan is one of the youngest jewellery houses in the world. Founded by two brothers Muharrem and Ferhan Gilan, the premise was simple: to create jewels that were inspired by Turkey’s rich cultural past while remaining modern and contemporary.
I had the privilege of visiting the brand’s boutique at the chic Istinye Park shopping mall where I discovered their incredible collections. One thing that distinguishes Gilan immediately from other jewellers is that the majority of their products are not mass produced – they are hand crafted using century old techniques (some take months to create) and are limited in numbers.
The bold Amethyst cuff with black diamonds
While many of the creations draw inspiration from the country’s mix of Roman and Ottoman civilisations, highlights for me include the Heritage Collection where each piece is made using a 600 year old technique first used in the Ottoman court. Standouts include their signature rose-cut diamond and citrine earrings, and the diamond and emerald ring which references the many domes that dot the city’s landscape.
Another favourite is the more contemporary Cintemani collection which pays tribute to the Cintemani, one of the most striking motifs in Ottoman art as well as the Far East. The result is a series of sleek earrings, bangles and rings that mimic the symbol’s wavy lines. To me it’s the modern antidote to Cartier’s over hyped trinity collection.
From left (clockwise): Rose-cut diamond necklace and ring; Tulip ring