Michelangelo once said “I saw the angel in the marble and I carved until I set him free.” A glimpse at Sevan Bicakci’s fine jewelry and it is clear that this mastermind was also given a gift to create works of art that inspire. Sevan creates an alternate universe in each piece of wearable art with details so small and beauty so vast, it leaves wearers and onlookers in wonderment. Sevan not only conceptualizes each impossible design but also creates them, and has since March 2002 when he unveiled his first collection to an unsuspecting audience in Turkey. Today, his creations adorn the shelves of the most prestigious jewelry houses in the fashion capitals of Europe, America and the Middle East and occupy pride of place in the private collections of jewelry connoisseurs across the world. In 2017, Sevan Bicakci’s first U.S. retail boutique opened in Miami’s Design District.
Born in Istanbul’s Samatya district in 1972, his homeland is undoubtedly Sevan’s greatest muse. His exquisite pieces reflect a sensibility steeped in Istanbul's myriad Oriental charms– exotic spice bazaars, majestic mosques, whirling dervishes, fairy-tale like minarets and imposing images of past Sultans. A fascination with the icons, portraits, ornaments and crests he admired as a child growing up in the heart of the metropolis is evident in every intricate indent.
From his design studio near Istanbul's 500-year-old Grand Bazaar, Bicakci and his team of artisans create one-of-a-kind jewels crafted from high-karat gold, sterling silver, rose or antique-cut diamonds, and a host of uniquely cut gemstones. The techniques he and his team have pioneered include metal-based painting, engraving, calligraphy, intaglio carving (reverse gemstone carving) and micro-mosaic setting. They demonstrate a reverence to jewelry designed from the soul, rather than technology-aided design. And although the designs are inspired from the icons and monuments that surround him, his jewelry is 100 percent original, a rarity in a region known for impressionable duplications. His work is a reflection of the enigma that is Turkey today, an iconic East-West metropolis with a mixed identity, yet everything about it is distinctly exotic and original, and cannot be categorized.
Sevan’s jewelry apprenticeship began early. He learned his craft under Hovsep Chatak, the much-respected Armenian jeweler who mentored Sevan beginning at the tender age of 12. Here, in the midst of Istanbul’s inspiring Grand Bazaar, Sevan honed his craft. The artist still today considers this chance– to work with one of the masters at such a young age in a locale so exotic– his biggest break.
Sevan Bicakci is the recipient of countless prestigious awards including seven Couture Design Awards and the Tanzanite Foundation Award for Best Independent Designer. Five of his rings have been selected by Victoria & Albert Museum’s panel of judges to become a part of the Jameel Prize Exhibition, which has been on tour between museums and art galleries in London, Riyadh, Damascus, Beirut, Casablanca, Istanbul, Sharjah and Bahrain. Three rings were part of “The Light of the Sufis” exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston.
His designs now have a universal appeal, but look deep within, and you will still find an indelible Turkish aura around them, and therein lays his greatest appeal.