Born in Turkey in 1954, Gurhan Orhan has created some of the most beautiful 24ct gold and gemstone jewellery available in the world today.
Local Istanbul artisans had long dismissed the idea of using pure 24 karat gold in jewellery, claiming it was too soft and heavy. Embracing this challenge, Gurhan rejected modern teachings and instead studied the techniques used by ancient Goldsmiths thousands of years ago. The resulting jewellery is of unsurpassed quality, demonstrating Gurhan's exceptional craftsmanship and commitment to perfection.
We hope you enjoy discovering more about this talented and passionate fine jeweller.
What first inspired you to become a jewellery designer?
This would best be described with the term "love at first sight." I was tempted by pure gold and fell in love with it immediately. Shaping pure gold and translating its form using my knowledge, passion and dreams gives me indescribable pleasure.
What drew you to 24ct gold?
Gold is the first metal that humans used, and it is the only metal that can be found pure in nature. When I fell in love with pure gold I decided to research ancient civilizations and their gold production methods and tools. I spent many years reading various archaeological books and studying this knowledge – this research is ongoing for me.
How do you interpret these ancient civilisations and cultures in your work?
I do not limit myself to a single culture but instead open myself to the hidden beauties and values of different civilizations from the different regions of the world. I collect these impressions and colours inside me, then I pour them into my designs without hesitation. I hope that these traces can be followed through my designs.
What do you find most challenging as jewellery designer?
Creating something new is always challenging. In terms of designing jewellery, you need to create something unique, elegant and special; jewellery that will become part of the person who owns it.
What steps are involved in creating a piece of your jewellery?
The first stage is inspiration, but please don't ask me when the inspiration comes. This is often in the back of my head, then I draw the piece, play with it till I make a prototype. Working on the prototype is my favourite part! Then, I get it ready to put it into production. Today most people think pure gold is a soft metal. When it is annealed [heated] this is true. But, when you cold forge it, it becomes harder. There are also some Byzantine techniques to reinforce pure gold.
What does fine jewellery mean to you?
Design, ergonomics, texture, proportions, a little bit of fashion, finish, and a lot of passion.
How do you create such intense colour and sparkle in your gemstones?
That is the magic of pure gold. All colours pops out when they are combined with it. I also take great care when buying each stone; the quality, cut and colour is very important. Closed back settings ensure the stone stays free from dirt and allows the stone to sparkle more from the prismatic reflections of the top light.
Could you explain the code inscribed inside each piece of your jewellery?
Each Gurhan piece will have an individual item number inscribed on the inside of it. I do this so that the owner of that piece knows that this is hers and hers alone. Each piece is handmade and I know from the item number which of my workshop goldsmiths worked on it, the origin of the stone and who set it. It is the owner's guarantee that it is a genuine piece of GURHAN jewellery.
Five words that best describe you?
Passionate, strong voiced, honest, faithful, crazy.
What is your proudest achievement?
I was asked to produce a collection for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The jewellery was made to complement the exhibition of ancient Bactrian Treasures dating from 100AD that had been discovered in Kabul.
People that know you best would say you are:
Amazing at ... Eating
Terrible at ... Playing football
Who do you most admire?
Fiona, my wife
At the moment I am reading ...
Digital Fortress by Dan Brown
What is your favourite gemstone?
What can't you live without?
What is your most irritating habit?
What drives you crazy?
What is the greatest inspiration for your creativity?
Celebrities and socialites alike have been spotted wearing Gurhan's distinctive designs. Pictured here, Angelina Jolie wearing Gurhan on the cover of National Jeweler magazine.