The Royal Jewellers S03 ep4 : Sevan Bicakci Jewellery [Istanbul]

Interview with Sevan Bicakci

Of Armenian descent, Sevan Bicakci was born in 1965 in the Fatih district of Istanbul, Turkey. He is known as the King of Rings. At the age of 12, his father, who was a theater actor, placed Sevan under the apprenticeship of Hovsep Catak in the Grand Bazaar of Istanbul. After serving 4 years of apprenticeship, his master passed away. However, he had learned a great deal about jewellery design and craftsmanship. He then opened a workshop in order to serve bigger manufacturers as a freelance jewel designer. He worked on his first collection for a year before unveiling it in the global market in 2002. His jewelry designs are that of Byzantine and Ottoman styles. Some of Sevan's famous clientele include Catherine Zeta-Jones, Elizabeth Hurley, Celine Dion, Liv Tyler, Mariah Carey, Brooke Shields, Angie Harmon, Kim Raver, Halle Berry, Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, Michelle Monaghan, and Tory Burch.


This jewellery is about patience, it’s time consuming, extremely labour intensive work coming
from the hands of incredibly talented craftsmen and artists.

His jewellery is about everything that surrounds him in his daily life, it’s the cultural heritage,
Istanbul with its architecture with its legends, with the Byzantine legacy and the pagan past,
hedonism, ottoman sultans, concubines, the stories from the harem.

sevan istanbul jewellery ring

As an Armenian kid growing up in Istanbul he would have had two choices, could have been about
becoming a car mechanic and the other one is the path he is in, he found himself in the right
environment by great chance from his father’s wish he started working as an intern in a jewellery
workshop when he was just twelve years of age.

As a kid in general he was taking toys apart, reassembling them in different new patterns, right
now he’s 38 but the level of enthusiasm is still the same, he feels the same excitement as he felt it
entering the workshop of his first master …

sevan istanbul jewellery lock

In the workshops of Istanbul there is a strong tradition, you have to respect your master in earlier
times when they were asked which school they graduated sometimes they gave answers like the
grand v… university, it’s an alternative system of education. He worked long years in small
workshops, tiny spaces with five people working in them.

In his former life where he used to work as a model maker for other manufacturers he was very
much into creating rings within hours which he regretted a lot, he believes the wearers are unique
personalities and they should be wearing their personal attributes instead of pieces of accessory
which are made just to embellish them in passive ways, approximately nine or ten years ago he had
in his mind creating unique pieces of jewellery only with great detail, attention to detail, he
wanted to create a new language for jewellery making, this is not a typical Turkish or Istanbullian
style, he has the vision and he created it together with his precious collaborating artists and

sevan istanbul jewellery ring

It’s of course not easy to give a simple description or explanation, the muse is just in air, there are
ideas in the air. There is a story telling process at the beginning and he works together with a
serious group of very skilled people, calligraphers, painters, sculptors. He delegates the work first
comes the story telling and then on the basis of the story the jewellery gets constructed.

He felt privileged by an invitation coming from the government of Abu Dhabi and we went there,
we did not only spend time in Abu Dhabi but we also went to the desert to the … area. He learnt
that Abu Dhabi means the place where the gazelles are and then they, he heard the story about Abu
Dhabi’s first settlement and the first Bedouins were in the area they needed water and then they
saw some gazelles in the area, they followed the gazelles and the gazelles brought them to a place
where they could find water, there was a well, after coming back to Istanbul he was very impressed
by that story and he wanted to create a ring being inspired by the story so that’s why you see the
gazelle as the fundamental, as the basis of the ring and a city grows out of the head of the gazelle,
Abu Dhabi.

sevan istanbul jewellery ring

He loves his work and to look as if the pieces would have spent 1,000 years underneath the soil, the
philosophies about maybe the Byzantine Emperor … Alice in Wonderland or the idea is new but
the look is old. 24 carat gold and silver to his understanding and taste the best materials to create
that object you can wear them and the more they get worn the more beautiful the textures become,
the surfaces look. He doesn’t like to make use of modern cuts of diamonds because their job is to
sparkle and his jewellery is not meant to sparkle and just to embellish, his work is meant to tell
stories, so in this case all kinds of materials are important because of their support to the story.

He never calculates up front how much the piece is given work will cost once it will be completed
and he does not like to cost of them if somebody’s going to buy it at all or not, he just wants to add
to his collection whatever he feels is necessary to be added as it were. So the price points are
various but most of them fall into the range between $10,000 and $35,000 US dollars but there are
also single pieces which can cost much more than that.

The story was born about ten years ago in year 2002. He made his first international step in the
year 2005. Ever since he has been acquiring collectors and they are from a wide region. They
know that each single piece is unique so what they like they have to buy. We had two temporary
exhibitions, under the patronage of the Victorian Albert Museum, it started in London in 2009 and
just ended after having made a tour through various countries.

He makes friends very easily with customs officers especially if they are ladies, they love to have a
look at each single piece, especially the one that’s at an airport in Turkey when he goes back to the
country they might ask him questions such as if he would still have the apple ring.