Gurhan’s Modern Ancient Jewelry
Gurhan’s jewelry has been an editorial and red carpet staple for years, with fans including Angelina Jolie, Queen Rania of Jordan, Charlize Theron and Gwen Stefani. Applying ancient techniques to making his signature 24k gold jewelry, Gurhan creates pieces that feel superannuated and modern at the same time. In 2009 he was selected by the Metropolitan Museum of Art to create a jewelry collection using the methods of ancient goldsmiths for its exhibition on the hidden treasures of Afghanistan. Gurhan was on hand at Dallas NorthPark to hand engrave pieces for clients and talk with NMdaily about his love of precious metals and his ancient craft.
NM: Your jewelry has a rich Byzantine look. Where does that influence come from?
G: I am from Istanbul, the crossroads of many cultures. When I started to make beautiful jewelry there were no modern resources or techniques for using pure 24k gold. People told me that it couldn’t be done. I didn’t come from a jewelry background or family, so I went to museums and looked at archaeological finds where I studied many of the other Anatolian civilizations like the Uruk, Hattians and Sumerians. I went to libraries and museums and studied archaeological books that were not open to the public. The books explained ancient goldsmith techniques using 24k gold from as early as 4000 BC. I used these ancient techniques to make modern jewelry.
NM: Where is your workshop?
G: My jewelry is all made by hand in Turkey. It takes five people to make just one stacking ring. When I started to produce my pieces, I trained three people in my techniques. I made all my own tools because you couldn’t buy them. I prefer to hire artisans with no jewelry experience so I can teach them myself the techniques and style, and now I have 96 artists that work for me.
NM: What are you working on currently?
G: I am enjoying working with metals I call 4/24. It’s a pure 24k gold with intricate detail in a harder 4kt gold that has a wonderful chocolate color. This 4/24 combination was widely used in the Ottoman period. Although I started out with 24k gold, I like working with many metals like platinum, silver, rhodium, and bronze. I am also a collector and use 1000 year-old coins, scarabs, pietro dura, micromosaic, and Pompeiian lava cameos in my jewelry. I have even started to cut stones. Each stone has a different power and when attached to the body by gold or another metal, they have special healing and balancing properties.
NM: What is the direction of your Fall collection?
G: I had fun and made a lot using gold and silver together—lariat necklaces, long chains to pile on and layer, and long earrings.