Destination: Turkey: Istanbul
A wonderful shop for vintage jewelry and art objects.
Akcali Jewelers is a family-run shop that specializes in gold (14, 18 and 24 karat) pieces. While the owners do sell necklaces and earrings adorned with semi-precious stone, they are best known for their solid gold pieces, which are sold by weight. Snatch up a set of bangles in rose, yellow or white gold for a fraction of the price that you would pay elsewhere.
For vintage jewelry and Ottoman collectibles, look no further than Epoque, an intimate and musty-smelling Arabian Nights–style treasure-filled room piled high with antique painted icons and elaborate silver pitchers. Some of the most impressive jewelry (such as vintage Cartier and antique Ottoman pieces) is hidden away, so be sure to ask the owner to show you his most unique items. This is where world-renowned architect and jewelry collector Zaha Hadid has discovered treasures, and you will spot a photo of her with the owner behind the counter. Amidst the vintage jewelry are silver and antique porcelain.
This hip designer has been written up by The New York Times and was one of the first to champion the Galata neighborhood as one of Istanbul’s new artist enclaves.
One of the city’s top jewelers, Kafkas has several locations in Istanbul, but the owners are frequently here at their bazaar outpost. There are many original designs, which include both modern and vintage inspired (they do work for Fred Leighton) pieces.
Necef Antik & Gold
This small shop in the Grand Bazaar is a good spot to find gold evil eye charms. There are a lot of stalls selling this look and other Ottoman and Byzantine styles, but here you can count on the charms being glass and the gold being 24 karat. Its owner Haluk Botasun crafts the pieces himself in an upstairs workroom. There are also nice gold and semi-precious stone earrings.
In a tiny 1,000-year-old space, Nick Merdenyan sells delicate calligraphy art on dried leaves, many of them centered around the world’s three main religions—Christianity, Islam and Judaism. He also has hand-carved and sculpted meerschaum pipes and crocheted necklaces with precious stones.
The owner of this tiny shop across from the Grand Bazaar fled Syria in the spring of 2012, bringing his beautiful scarves and jewelry with him. He creates reproductions of antique Ottoman gems with precious and semi-precious jewels.
The lovely Janset Bilgin is behind this jewelry-cum-home textiles shop. She is a gifted designer and her necklaces, bracelets and earrings of hammered metal, cord and semi-precious stones, are made in a small workshop in the back.
A cult jeweler, Sevan Bicakci is known for his outrageously ornate rings. Some are gem-encrusted animals; others feature globe-like stones surrounded by whimsical design flourishes. All are distinctive and marked by intricate craftsmanship. He has been called Turkey’s version of Joel Rosenthal and won numerous international awards for his innovative styles. His pieces are carried at shops like Barneys New York and in the Dubai-Wafi Mall but in Istanbul you can visit him at his atelier or see his work in his boutiques, including one in the W hotel.
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