Words by Juliet Austin
In Gurhan Orhan's world, all that glitters is gold - 24 karat gold to be exact. With his trendsetting designs adorning the slender curves and tanned bodies of the international glitterati, including red carpet fashionistas and stars of the silver screen, his single-handed revival of the ancient art of crafting this once forgotten pure metal have led to a modern day gold rush of sorts, straight to the doors of his exclusive upper eastside Manhattan workshop and a lifetime away from his roots in native Turkey.
For the disbelievers, Gurhan’s meteoric rise is living proof of the power of destiny. The auspicious moment his palm was crossed with pure 24 karat gold, was the moment he began down the ‘mellow yellow’ brick road as a pioneering, self-made goldsmith and internationally renowned jewellery designer. Entranced by the warmth and sensuality of the ‘noblest metal of all’, Gurhan sought out the wisdom handed down from ancient times, studying the practices of the Anatolian and Byzantine empires, including using the wooden and bone tools of the original masters. Honing his proprietary design skills, his once boyish fascination for tinkering, borne of an acute and analytical mind, enabled him to refine such time-tested techniques, solving the problems of malleability to ‘reincarnate’ the coveted and revered beauty of fine 24 karat gold jewellery in a tiny workshop nestled in Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar.
Developing the beguiling, hand-hewn signature style for which he is now held in such high regard – the characteristic natural imperfections resulting from hand hammering – a chance encounter in the early 90’s, saw Gurhan’s ineffaceable ‘fingerprint’ catching the eye of New York-based investment banker, Fiona Tilley. As the stars collided, so began a business partnership-turnedlove- affair that rocked the jewellery world and saw the GURHAN brand propelled into the stratosphere of international superstardom. As his on-trend, eclectic sensibility earned him accolades and awards for his distinctive aesthetic and fashion forward coupling of unusual stones and highly textural qualities, Gurhan expanded his repertoire to include signature collections in pure silver and platinum, including his revolutionary 2010 line named 4/24 featuring a unique combination of an early ottoman alloy containing 4 karats of gold and his signature 24 karat gold alongside his own distinctive diamond settings.
Yet his creative philosophy is simple: “First,” he explains, “I dream the woman, then I create the jewellery.” Exploiting the sensual magnetism of the precious metal, each piece is intended to, “seduce a woman’s senses.” Innovatively incorporating precious and exotic gemstones – amethysts and aquamarine to black pearls, rubies and labradorite – his perfectly imperfect hand wrought look is undeniably fashion savvy: alluringly novel while maintaining pure and timeless appeal.
Easy-to-wear, bohemian stackable rings, Spring and bangle bracelets ooze understated glamour while delivering that all important wow factor. An avid collector of antiques and novelties, Gurhan’s clever coupling of precious metals with ‘found’ objets d’art and rare oneof- a-kind treasures – Victorian micro mosaics to Japanese Satsuma pottery and Byzantine coins – have lead to his latest carved antique lava cameo designs being forecast as one of fall’s hottest trends.
So, as GURHAN gold fever continues to grip the international design and fashion scenes, retailed in over fifteen countries by the likes of Harrods, Harvey Nichols and Liberty of London and paraded by Hollywood’s elite, from the style icons of Sex and the City, celebrities Angelina Jolie and Gwen Stefani and high profile big guns, Hilary Clinton and Queen Rania of Jordan, Gurhan’s radiant designs live to adorn his devotees, acting as the continuous thread that connects worlds, generations and lives by virtue of the man with the golden touch. As Gurhan himself states: “Fate brings a woman and my jewellery together.”
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