Rapaport Magazine
Style & Design

Enter the bazaar

Turkish jeweler Fatma Altinbas takes readers on a breathtaking tour of both her own creations and the Istanbul wonders that inspired them.

By Sonia Esther Soltani

In one spread from the superbly produced Stones of the Grand Bazaar, a poetic photo of seagulls flying over Istanbul complements a pair of exquisite earrings depicting these marine birds in diamonds.

What an elegant way to share a brand’s creations — in this case, the Bosphorus earrings by Meváris — and the inspiration behind them. It’s not just the heady Turkish city’s legendary strait, animal species, and local flowers that spark the imagination of Meváris creative director Fatma Altınbaş. The author of this delightfully opulent book is also a cultural anthropologist and a sociology lecturer, and she applies these fields to her narrative.

In her erudite ode to the storied Turkish metropolis, Altınbaş takes readers on a fascinating journey through vibrant markets and colorful interiors, highlighting how the beautifully crafted ornaments she’s known since childhood have found their way into her contemporary jewels.

“I am forever indebted to Istanbul’s historical legacy for helping me to define my own design aesthetic. My jewelry brand, Meváris, was born out of a love for this heritage,” she writes.

Altınbaş comes from a family of gold merchants whose story introduces the book. Her proximity to the riches of the Grand Bazaar have made her appreciate the indigenous artisans’ ancestral skills, which she celebrates in her text. Atmospheric imagery showing craftsmen in their workshops offers precious glimpses of techniques that have passed down through generations. The publication also features paintings that reveal lavish fashion styles from historic Constantinople.

The reader discovers Meváris’s jewels in their wider context, and this enhances the meaning of each piece. Altınbaş reinterprets classic Byzantine symbols such as crescents, eyes and moons in the brand’s sleek and refined style. Luscious gemstones in statement rings evoke the Iznik tiles that decorate many traditional buildings in Istanbul. Elliptical turquoise earrings recall the sensual curves of the city’s architecture, while a diamond ring’s crisscross motif dialogues with a window’s lattice pattern.

It’s the author’s personal and academic voice that elevates Stones of the Grand Bazaar from an attractive coffee table book that’s both travelogue and jewelry showcase, to a historical and cultural study that should find an audience well beyond lovers of glittery things.

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - May 2021. To subscribe click here.

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