You think you know Byzantine jewellery. But wait till you see the works by the Turk Sevan Bicakci. It takes a lot of imagination and curiosity when you catch sight of designs like miniature 3D carvings of the Istanbul’s famed Hagia Sophia mosque, suspended like a fossil in amber in the middle of a smoky quartz, on his trademark whopper-sized cocktail rings.
These surrealist carvings on the inside of precious stones, along with his Game of Thrones-meets-Tzarist aesthetic, have earned him a cult following. His works (prices start from $10,000) will now come to Asia for the first time at lifestyle emporium Edit Lifestyle’s Turkish Delight pop-up from August 28 to September 20. He shares more about his jewellery designs:
What is the Sevan Bicakci DNA?
“Multiple layers, an extreme focus on craftsmanship, attention to detail, bold shapes, a weathered and oxidised look. All these are characteristic of my one-of-a-kind pieces.”
What is your definition of Turkish jewellery? And where does Sevan Bicakci fall into that category?
“My creations are indirectly inspired by Turkish culture, like the rich references to the city’s monuments, Byzatine wall mosaics and paintings, architecture, calligraphy, Ottoman ceramic wares and tiles. But they are never, ever inspired by jewellery or designs that were made before, which means the styles I introduce are something totally new. Likewise, there are also very few Turkish designers who are able to cultivate their own distinct style for years. Instead, they mostly try to meet demands in the tourist-driven market (by mass-producing accessories).”
Which piece best embodies who and what you do as a jewellery designer?
“A big cuff shaped like an octopus with its legs appearing to embrace the wrist. It has a huge rock crystal with an inversely engraved intaglio (i.e. an image that is incised into a surface) of my face. To be honest, all of my pieces are equally important due to the experimental nature of my work.”
Your choice of materials range from diamonds to bones. And the techniques you use, like micro mosaic and intaglio, are rarely used today in jewellery making. Why did you decide to use these for your work?
“I believe that a jeweller’s mission is about creating statement pieces instead of some mere accessory. Each wearer is unique and therefore should wear pieces that are powerful attributes (and display that person’s character). I am dedicated to creating statement pieces or symbols in the same way ancient goddesses and gods had their attributes. My customers are also collectors; after all, my pieces appeal to a very niche and select eye.”