Istanbul's Belle Epoque Featured

Gilan jewellery masterpieces are a contemporary expression of the Ottoman Court in all its glorious culture and luxury

by 29 September 2010

Rich diversity of culture, and a unique blend of traditions. These are amongst the most important factors that created a remarkable era in culture, redefining luxury and beauty in 15th century Istanbul. Not linked exclusively to the lifestyle at the Ottoman Court, this golden age saw a widespread flowering of architecture, design and music. Fast forward a few generations. Gilan, founded by brothers Muharrem and Ferhan Gilan in 1980, has channeled the artistic characteristics of old Istanbul into the present, producing a uniquely alluring blend of contemporary style and history. They followed in the design footsteps of their great-grandmother, head seamstress to the Ottoman court, who created customized dresses for pashas. Gilan’s passion for design and luxury is hereditary.

With a vast heritage of mysterious jewellery-making techniques, Gilan brings the opulence of the Ottoman Court to the 21st century. Gilan’s designs have been inspired by countless stormy love stories over the centuries. For example, the tulip era, the Belle Epoque of Istanbul’s luxurious lifestyle, has inspired openwork tracery in gold and floral designs, evoking an ancient tradition in which sultans used to plant a new batch of tulips every time they proposed to a new wife.

Intricate designs and meticulous craftsmanship create the setting for lavish gemstones, rose-cut diamonds, rubies and turquoises mixed with onyx, mother-of-pearl and jade. Steeped in culture and tradition, Gilan crafts extraordinary pieces of jewellery and objets d'art. Each piece tells a narrative of adventure dating back to 15th century Istanbul, incorporating motifs and techniques derived from the circle of craftsmen working for the Palace.

Gilan’s collections always pay tribute to the city where their design originated. The Heritage Collection expresses the mysterious and seductive ambience of the harems in the Ottoman palace and the enticing glamour of jewels. Cintemani, a secret motif that was worn by the sultans as a sign of power, gave its name to a magical collection that leaves you breathless. The rarest flowers in the garden of the mighty Sultan inspired delicate pieces set with diamonds, emeralds and rubies, in the lavish Topkapi Palace Collection. The Legendary Birds’ elegant and modern design draws inspiration from the phoenix, with its age-old myth of resurrection and immortality. Gilan strives to transpose these fascinating stories into dazzling and timeless masterpieces.

True to its roots, Gilan undertook a major renovation project, in which the Ministry of Culture granted the famous jewellery house permission to refurbish the Treasury Hall at Topkapi Palace, which was the sultans’ main residence during the four centuries of their reign. The four chambers have been restored with brand-new display, lighting and security systems, and the Palace has re-opened its doors to the world.

Gilan has boutiques in Istanbul and New York. Its collections are also available in exclusive locations in London, Paris, Baku and Megeve. The New York Fifth Avenue flagship store has 320 square meters of space exhibiting the superb collections of jewellery for women. The newest Gilan boutiques at Istinye Park and Four Seasons on the Bosphorus Hotel in Istanbul were created by celebrated interior designer Bruno Moinard, ensuring a sophisticated and luxurious shopping experience.

As an international fine jewellery house, Gilan’s ornate pieces have long been the choice of many celebrities and jet-setters around the world. Iconic beauties such as Nicole Kidman, Mischa Barton, Salma Hayek, Drew Barrymore, Penélope Cruz and Christina Aguilera have been photographed wearing Gilan jewellery on the red carpet and at exclusive events.

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Istanbul FW 2010