Welcome to my artistic jewelry inspiration series. Weekly on Muse Mondays, check in to see what is catching my eye. The goal is to nourish my own artist muse by following wherever she leads with amazement and study, but I’ll gladly share with you. Today’s artist is Turkish jeweler Sevan Bicakci.
You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have. – Maya Angelou
With a legion of devoted fans, Sevan Bicakci is a celebrity jeweler who specializes in utilizing the imagery of his Istanbul home to inspire over-the-top creations. His statement rings are eye-catching at every level, from the carved and painted center stones to the micromosaic or pave encrusted shanks.
Each piece is envisioned as something that an Ottoman Empire king or queen might wear. Taking several months to make, the masterpiece is first conceptualized and sketched, then fabricated entirely by hand in a workshop filled with stone carvers, painters, enamelists, engravers, micro-mosaicists and gem setters.
Seven is particularly known for his intaglio stones, which are reverse carved and intricately painted to reveal three-dimensional scenes floating within the stone. The stones are then mounted within detailed complimentary settings, often featuring painted enamel or micro-mosaic scenes, heavy engraving, pave stones, or bold strokes of 24k gold.
Seven also offers a broad range of padlock pendants, which have been very popular in recent years.
Since the name Biçakçi means “blade maker,” it’s unsurprising that the artist uses a dagger as his personal symbol. It’s used for everything from the maker’s mark stamped onto the jewelry to the doorhandles on his boutiques. It also appears frequently as a closure on jewelry.
Of course, there are other designs – pendants and earrings – that are very related. My favorites (always) are earrings.
Sevan Bicakci was apprenticed to be a goldsmith at the age of twelve! When he began his own workshop and presented his original work, it was thought to be a bit TOO unusual. Now he does nothing except these original concepts, not having time to develop custom designs. Each piece from his shop is one-of-a-kind, with a fitting price tag of five figures for work that takes months of work to complete.
His reputation is based upon both the unusual techniques employed and the high craftsmanship of the work presented. There is no substitution of technology; just old-fashioned talent and skill is at work.
Unusual and often ancient techniques practiced by his fine craftsmen include:
- reverse painting
- enamel painting
- foil-lining for rose-cut diamonds
As a maker, I strive to analyze why I’m drawn to certain art and how it might help me move my own work forward. So, I’ve searched through the collections of Sevan Biçakçi’s images, seeking enlightenment and jewelry inspiration. Are there elements here that can inform my future work? Or reminders of experiments abandoned that need to be resurrected?
I featured a lot of rings in this collection, because rings have been very much speaking to me. I admire his willingness to make dream treasures, which took time to achieve recognition. I admire that they are unabashedly ornate and detailed, especially in a world currently dominated by minimalist fashion jewelry. Maybe only celebrities and the extreme wealthy can afford to own these, but there’s no capitulation to making work for marketing purposes. The artist pursues his vision, and it’s so spectacular that collectors can’t resist. There’s a good message there for all makers. Believe.
As I’ve done a fair bit of reverse painting on glass, I’m really captivated by the intaglios. While I don’t envision trying to carve stones, I do want to go back to playing with my paintings. I purchased a lapidary machine so that I could cut custom high dome glass cabochons for those paintings, and I need to revisit those.
I’m intrigued by the fact that many of the rings are marked as sterling 925. It’s a bit unusual to do all that stonesetting into silver. Even when there’s gold, in many of the pieces it appears to be keum boo since it’s recessed and 24k. This is a technique using pure gold foil that I’ve experimented with before. I’m being tempted now to use it on some pieces in progress to see if I can fill the background with that luscious golden glow instead of dark patina. And since I’ve been wanting more gold, but afraid of the expense, this is a smart step in that direction.
I love the inverted faceted stones, and I’ve been tempted to do this myself in the past. I admit that I was concerned that it was an improper mounting, but if Sevan can do it, so can I. Stone setting in general, pave in particular, is on my list of skills to upgrade soon.
Overall, this artist just reassures me that I should follow my passion, listen to my muse, strive for technical excellence and trust that fine original work will find a home eventually.
Seven Bıçakçı website
Seven Bıçakçı instagram
Seven Bıçakçı video by The Jewellery Editor
Seven Bıçakçı video for 2016 GEM Award for Jewelry Design Nominee
Seven Bıçakçı documentary