A Rock Crystal, Colored Diamond, Diamond, Gold and Silver ‘Oh God, Let it Rain’ Ring

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    • Round rock crystal cabochon with reverse intaglio carving
      Pear-shaped rock crystal cabochons
      Round brilliant-cut colored diamonds and single-cut diamonds
      Signed, numbered
      24 karat yellow gold and sterling silver, size 7 (re-sizable)

      Accompanied by a framed drawing of the ring


      Exclusive additional experience will include:
      An exclusive meeting with Bıçakçı at his studio near Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar to discover his inspirations and creative environment
      A private tour of the architectural landmarks that have inspired Bıçakçı’s work
      An invitation to Bıçakçı’s private yacht for a unique Bosphorous cruise tour
      *If the buyer is not available for a visit in Istanbul, the meeting can be organized in Bicakci’s boutique in Miami or in New York based on the designer’s availability and will exclude private tours
      *Lodging, airfare and personal expenses not included

  • Catalogue Essay

    SEVAN BICAKCI – THE BLADESMITH OF ISTANBUL

    Just a gemstone’s throw from Istanbul’s famous Grand Bazaar, in an atelier overlooking a quiet cobbled street, goldsmith Sevan Bıçakçı and his dedicated team of specialist artisans hand-craft the extraordinary, enigmatic, esoteric jewels that are amongst today’s most lusted-after contemporary works of art; most particularly, the monumental, otherworldly rings treasured by Sevan’s devoted clientele of collectors and connoisseurs. The atelier is situated above Sevan’s deceptively low-key boutique. If you make the journey to the boutique, as I’ve been fortunate to do, you find the door handles are shaped as daggers; this is both Sevan’s signature and the key to his life’s story. His name, Bıçakçı, means ‘Bladesmith”, and the dagger tells both of his Armenian metalsmithing heritage and the story of Ottoman jeweled arts - his enduring inspiration. Single-handedly, Sevan has revitalized and contemporized ancient, recherché Byzantine and Ottoman skills, arts and craft – goldsmithing, engraving, miniature painting, calligraphy, mosaics and gem-setting, many of which have been handed down through millennia, but have languished in modern day Turkey.

    These jeweled arts were nurtured and perfected in the court workshops of Istanbul’s lavish Topkapi Palace, and so form a vital part of the city’s rich, diverse, multi-layered history. Istanbul remains Sevan’s most potent inspiration: the captivating city in which Sevan was born and bred, the city that fed his imagination, a city of exoticism and adventure, monuments, myths and mysteries, in which ancient and modern, East and West, meet and mingle, a city of dreams.

    Born to Armenian parents in the Samatya neighborhood of Istanbul, Sevan had a humble upbringing. He was a mischievous, unruly child and at 12 years old, was sent to work as an apprentice to a master goldsmith in the Grand Bazaar. Here, in the dark, dank, cramped workshops and gold-smelting furnaces, running errands through the labyrinthine maze of alleyways, Sevan learnt his craft, progressing from one workshop to another, slowly discovering and then honing his exceptional skills and special gift for model-making.

    Sevan opened his own workshop when he was 18, making models for other jewelers, and there followed years of trial and tribulation, experiments, setbacks and financial struggles, adversity overcome through sheer hard work, tenacity and unshakeable determination to bring innovation and artistry to the deeply conservative Turkish jewelry industry. He finally threw caution to the wind and followed his instincts, and in 2002 launched his first collection of huge rings, sculpted as turbaned sultan heads. They grabbed the attention of the press and catapulted him to success. Alongside his massive rings, Sevan also crafted weighty padlocks, as if conjured from ancient treasure chests, heavy chains, and bejeweled dagger motifs, in lavishly engraved silver and gold, and set with the rose-cut diamonds, evocative of Ottoman jewels, or with diamonds set upside down, an innovation that was to become hugely influential.

    Sevan possesses a rare combination of artistic sensitivity, cultural curiosity, technical ingenuity and supreme craft skills, all of which he drew on to develop the unique, reverse intaglio rings for which he is best known. Dazzlingly theatrical, these rings showcase dream-like, minutely detailed images that seem to float inside massive rock crystal domes. The dome shape itself, he explains, was an homage to the many domes of Istanbul, including Hagia Sophia, whose presence has always exerted a powerful influence on Sevan. Through Sevan’s pioneering technique of layered miniature painting, the images inside the crystals acquire a mesmerising, three-dimensional holographic effect. In this way, Sevan has taken the Victorian technique of reverse intaglio jewels to another level entirely, and made the art form his own. Although, as he explains, at the time he came up with the idea he was completely unaware of this late 19th century fashion, never having been exposed to Western European antique jewelry.

    Each of Sevan’s rings is one-of-kind, with very limited numbers made each year and like Sevan himself, each is a lyrical storyteller, tapping into the Orientalist tradition of wandering minstrels or troubadours. Favored subjects for the floating images include the mosques, minarets and monuments of Istanbul, seascapes, still lifes, seagulls over the Bosphorus, pomegranates, birds, insects or flowers, and mythological characters or scenes. Sometimes the scenes are courageously and extravagantly carved in aquamarines, pale amethysts, even emeralds. Sevan describes himself as a “maestro” of artisans, conducting a team of talented designers, artists, sculptors, goldsmiths, engravers, gem-carvers, gem-setters, miniature painters, mosaicists, enamellists, glass artists, calligraphers and more, many of whom he trains in the ateliers, others still who find their way to him from across Turkey, all of whom contribute to these modern masterpieces.

    Sevan’s story, his imagination and ingenuity, his celebrated wit and warmth, are all encapsulated in the impressive ring that he has so generously donated to this auction: 100% of the proceeds from the sale of the ring will go to One Drop, the charity that collaborates with the global art and design community, working towards enabling access to safe water and sanitation for some of the most deprived areas in the world. It is an especially generous gesture, given that so few of these awe-inspiring and eagerly sought after rings are lovingly hand-crafted each year.

    Sevan has wholeheartedly embraced One Drop’s mission by creating a special ring, designed around the theme of water. He pays homage to water as a precious resource, both a gift and a giver of life, in his use of rarefied green diamonds and water-drop-shaped cabochon rock crystal, and in the detailed finesse of craftsmanship lavished on the ring.

    As always, Sevan underpins this jewel with his own particular philosophy, countering its immense physical presence with metaphysical, spiritual meaning. The concept of this ring, he explains, is inspired by a popular Turkish song from the 1980s, whose title translates as “Oh Lord, Let it Rain”, while the floating mirage-like scene carved and painted inside its rock crystal cocoon shows a cloudy, rain-drenched Istanbul.

    In Turkey, Sevan Bıçakçı is hailed as a national hero for his success, his personal tale of triumph-over-adversity, and for sharing the beauty and romance of Ottoman jeweled arts with the world. Even more, around the world, Sevan’s devoted fans prize his jewels for the essential humanity that lies at the heart of his storytelling and his art. It is a humanity that is expressed so poetically in this ravishing ring and its heartfelt message of hope.

    Written by Vivienne Becker, Jewelry Historian

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Donated by the artist to benefit the One Drop Foundation

A Rock Crystal, Colored Diamond, Diamond, Gold and Silver ‘Oh God, Let it Rain’ Ring

Estimate
$20,000 - 30,000 

sold for $12,500

Contact Specialist
Susan Abeles
Head of Department, Americas and Senior International Specialist
New York
+1 212 940 1383

Jewels

New York Auction 9 December 2019