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GOLD JEWELLERY IN TURKEY
AN ANCIENT, GREAT TRADITION
Turkish Gold Jewellery, now ranks second in the world trade
Turkey has a great jewellery tradition. Anatolia is a place where jewellery has been
produced for 5000 years. In fact, gold was refined first in Anatolia and the first coins were
minted again in Anatolia.
All of the civilizations which have inhabited Anatolia have produced numerous objects for
both religious and artistic purposes. People worked with metals, sometimes including
precious and semi-precious stones. The Hittites, Urartians, Phrygians, Ionians, Lydians,
Romans, Byzantines, Seljuks and Ottomans all established their rule in Anatolia and
created their own jewellery styles.
The most significant style among the different types of jewellery was brought to Anatolia by
the Seljuks. Their great influence on the Turkish jewellery tradition is demonstrated by
Turkoman jewels which originated in Central Asia. These are still produced and worn in
Turkoman tribes. Although they are produced with the simple tools of traditional
technology, these objects display exquisite craftsmanship which challenges contemporary
In Istanbul the jeweller’s art gained importance with the growth and prosperity of the
Ottoman Empire. During and after the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent, Istanbul became
one of the world’s most prominent centres for jewellery. Historical sources state that
jewellery fairs were held in Istanbul during the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent.
Today, the Turkish gold jewellery industry reflects this rich cultural heritage combined with
latest technology, outstanding craftsmanship and modern designs. The unique heritage
and level of proficiency in the Turkish jewellery sector allow any design to be created and
produced at any amount with supreme craftsmanship, excellent finishing, flexible
production and immense variety. Turkey today is fast becoming one of the preferred
suppliers for international buyers of gold jewellery.
Traditional Turkish jewellery making techniques include filigree (telkari), niello (savat) and
wickerwork (hasir). Filigree is a technique in which the artist creates motifs by soldering
together fine silver or gold wires. Since the wire used is often extremely delicate, this
technique requires an almost infinite degree of patience. The niello technique is based on
tiny, delicately-worked pieces of hand-painted enamel which are partitioned by precious
metals. In wickerwork, another technique used by Turkish jewellers, delicate wires are
Today, Turkey is one of the global leaders in gold jewellery production, ranking
among the top three countries in the world in this aspect
Turkey has the total capacity of producing 400 tons of gold annually. The industry is a
significant one amongst the Turkish manufacturing industries and employs about 250
thousand people currently. There were only one or two workshops with 100-200 people
working in the ‘90s whereas now, there are many huge factories employing a thousand
workers or more. The machine park of the industry has been upgraded and a high level of
technology has been reached.
In the mid 90’s, firms started to employ designers and now most of the world’s largest
design teams work in Turkey. The World Gold Council’s Office in Turkey organized yearly
design competitions between 1994 and 2010 in the industry in which hundreds of designs
and products were displayed. There are several design departments in the universities and
vocational high schools in which designers and qualified employees are trained for the
Currently, the major firms can produce 10 new models per day and taking into account the
variations of these models, 70-80 new products can roll out every day in the sector.
Hence, the sector has a great level of production flexibility and this is a great advantage for
supplying the special design demands of importers.
At present, there are about 5 000 producers and 35 000 retail outlets in the industry. The
centre for gold jewellery production is Istanbul, however production in Ankara and Izmir is
extensive, as well. In some cities in East and South East Anatolia gold jewellery is also
produced to some extent.
Approximately 250-300 tons of jewellery is produced every year in Turkey. Turkey is
among the three biggest gold jewellery producers in the world together with Italy and India.
Turkey annually imports an amount of gold varying in between 100-200 tons in recent
years. However, the imports were approximately 80 thousand tons 2011, probably due to
the ongoing effects of economic crisis of 2008. Only the Central Bank of Turkey and
members of the Istanbul Gold Exchange who have the relevant certificate can import gold
Domestic demand for gold jewellery is high because most Turkish people buy it both for
adornment and as a means of saving. In the 90’s some 4 -5 thousand tons of gold was
believed to be kept in homes in Turkey. In this respect, Turkey ranked second in the world
following India in personal gold investment.
Istanbul Gold Exchange - IGE was established in 1995 at Istanbul with the objectives of
liberalising the Turkish gold sector and integrating with international markets. There are 91
authorised members of the Istanbul Gold Exchange (www.iab.gov.tr) which consists of
commercial banks, precious metals companies and currency offices that obtained their
membership certificate from the Undersecretariat of Turkish Treasury. Only these
members are eligible to import and trade gold and other precious metals on the market.
The Istanbul Gold Refinery - IGR (www.iar.com.tr) started production in 2002. The refinery
has the technology to produce 999,9/1000 purity gold and has the capability to convert
scrap or doré gold bars into 995/1000 purity bullions. IGR operates in the Jeweller’s City
(Kuyumcukent) and a Display Center for its products in Istanbul's famous Grand Bazaar
(also known as the Covered Bazaar) which for centuries has been the heart of the Gold
Trade and jewellery production in Turkey. IAR have services of precious metal sales, dore
gold refining, supply of gold bullions and alloys.
JEWELLERS’ CITY ( KUYUMCUKENT)
The world’s largest, integrated goldsmith centre is in Istanbul
A gold jewellery production and trade center, the so called “Kuyumcukent” in Turkish was
been inaugurated in 2006. It is a complex of 328 000 square meters on a plot of 186 000
square meters. Kuyumcukent has 2 500 production units and shops. The Istanbul Gold
Refinery is also located in the complex. (http://www.kuyumcukent.com.tr)
Today, Turkey is one of the global leaders in gold jewellery exports, ranking 2nd after
ItalyThe gold jewellery sector of Turkey has turned its attention to exporting over the last few
decades. The saving habits of Turkish people have changed due to developments in the
Turkish economy and they have started using other ways of investing besides buying gold
jewellery. In addition, in 1993 the export and import restrictions on precious metals were
Although gold jewellery is relatively a new sector on Turkey’s export scene, its
performance has been outstanding and export value has increased significantly in the last
twenty years. Exports totaled 1,847 million US Dollars in 2011, the major destinations
were being the United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Kazakhstan, the Russian Federation, the USA,
Lithuania, Germany, Italy, Israel and Hong Kong. Turkish gold jewellery was exported to
more than 100 countries all over the world in 2011. The Turkish gold jewellery companies
have started to establish their own distribution channels abroad.
The major companies in the industry have shops/corners in the USA, in Europe and in
Dubai in the Middle East and in other countries in different regions of the world.
The Turkish gold jewellery industry also enjoys large sales to the foreigners visiting
Turkey. The exports and sales made to the tourists in the domestic market altogether
constitute 70 % of the industry’s total output.
Turkish jewellery is recognized worldwide for its beauty, innovation and quality. There
were more than 438 export companies by the end of 2011, some 50 of them being the
TRADE FAIRS IN TURKEY
Five major jewellery fairs are held in Turkey
The “Antalya Jewellery, Silver and and Watch Fair”
takes places in Antalya in April
The “Istanbul Int’l Watch, Clock, Jewellery, Machinery and Equipment Fair” takes place in February
“İstanbul Jewellery Show – IJS” takes place in March, both in İstanbul
“Izmir JEWEX” takes place in Izmir
“Cukurova Gold and Jewellery Fair” takes place in Gaziantep in May
Istanbul Minerals and Metals Exporters’ Associations (IMMIB)
Turkish Jewellery Association
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