Jewels Of The Ottoman Empire

                 Spanning six centuries, it is generally acknowledged that jewelry making in the Ottoman Empire was at its creative zenith in the sixteenth century. As a young prince, Sultan Süleyman I had learnt the craft in Trabzon and when he ascended to the throne in 1520, following in the footsteps of his father Sultan Selim I, he established ateliers in İstanbul-attracting the expanding empire's finest jewelers and craftsmen.

                 A passionate advocate and patron of this refined art, Süleyman the Magnificent-as he is also known-brought as mant as 90 craftsmen, including 60 goldsmiths and 30 jewelers, from all ower the world to work in the ateliers of the Topkapı Palace. Likewise, spectacular objects and jewelery were produced in the hans of the Grand Bazaar-small businesses around shady courtyards in the Grand Bazaar. İstanbul became the beating cultural heart of the empire, attracting legendary jewelers and craftsmen-often Armenians, Greeks, Persians, Arabs, Slavs, an Jews.
                 These skilled artisans made many of the beautiful items that we still marvel at today, ranging from weaponry and armor, to hairbrushes, clothing, dining ware, and chess sets. They also crafted an array of exquisite personal possessions, like pens and sweetmeat caskets. İn the sixteenth century, inspiration for these luxurious items came in various forms; motifs reflecting nature were popular, as were-more unusually-themes harking back to the dynasty's nomatic past.

                 The Ottoman Empire came to an end in 1922 and, during the first decades of the Turkish Republic, times were hard. İstanbul's workshops went into decline and there was a tendency towards mass-produced jewelry. But even so, the multi-ethnic legacy never abandoned İstanbul; the city remained home to many talented and innovative craftsmen, passing their skills on to new generations.

                 One of them is Arman Suciyan, two in 1988 at the age of 15, with help from family contacts within the Armenian jewelry community, made a decision that changed his life forever. "İt was through a close family friend of ours, who recommended me as an apprentice to Misak Toros" . "Like many master craftsmen, his family had been in the jewelry making business for four generations," he said. Toros was the last family business, Toros was also a theater and film director, and a classical guitarist. "All these different aspects influenced his jewelry design, making his work very different from the traditional, accepted approach," Suciyan Said.

                 Suciyan spent seven years as an apprentice. First, to a master in the Grand Bazaar-which is still home to mant of İstanbul's Armenian jewelry makers and craftsmen. Under the tutelage of this traditional master, Suciyan learned the basics and had the chance to see whether the craft would suit him. İt did, and he spent a further three years under the watchful eye of Misak Toros in his Nişantaşı workshop.

                 İt was working in the workshop, with plendy of encouragement from Toros, that he was able to fully realize his potential in jewelry craftsmanship. Whike there, he also discovered that he had a talent for modeling jewelry from wax. As Suciyan explained: "The lost wax method is an ancient production technique used by craftsmen; one that we still use in the jewelry trade today. I enjoyed working with the plasticity of wax, as opposed to the rigidity of metal. İt was the perfect medium for me to express my love of form and explore its possibilites."

                 Whenever possible, Suciyan sources his materials locally and responsibly. He prefers certains types of stones and metals. "The wide color spectrum offered by sapphires appeals to me, as do cabochon and unusual amorphous stones, since I can incorporate them into my sculptural style," he said. "As for metals, I mainly work with silver, mixing it with bronze, as this gives me the opportunity to play with their colors. I mainly use gold to accentuate different design details."

                 Some aspects of jewelry making are unchanged over hundreds of years but other methods are rapidly evolving. Suciyan is sure that technologies, such as 3D printing or modeling, are allowing more people to express their unique ideas and create jewelry much faster than in the old days, when everyting was made by hand. "Bespoke, personalized designs could be another trend too, as nowadays people are searching for something that expresses their own unique identity," he Said. "Maybe the conventional use of precious materials won't always be necessary and new, unconventional materials are appearing. Yhese could merge with the digital gadgetry that surrounds us," Suciyan explained.

                 There is one thing of which we can be certain. His impeccable workmanship will ensure that, like Ottoman treasures, Suciyan's jewelry will become part of the city's cultural and creative heritage.
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