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SILVER JEWELLERY IN TURKEY
The first major silver mines and examples of jewellery were recorded around 4000 BC,
located in Anatolia. They were mostly the main source of silver for many of the growing
cultures in that area of the world and others that would trade for silver.
Silver has been used for thousands of years as ornaments and utensils, for trade, and as
the basis for many monetary systems. However, the basic most notable use of silver is its
beauty and appeal as an item of jewellery. Silver has always been known to enhance the
beauty of precious stones hen set into a ring or a necklace.
Since the discovery of silver, Anatolia has been a major center for silver jewellery
production. Think about a land which has developed its own techniques and figures in the
art of jewellery production for thousands of years. 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 semiprecious
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 jewellery which originated in Central Asia, and is still produced and worn by
Turkoman tribes. Colored gemstones and pieces of glass with symbolic meanings, as well
as silver and gold, are used in this jewellery which is still produced and worn in Turkey.
During the time of the Ottomans, a great importance was given to the jeweller’s art. Many
goldsmiths came to İstanbul from Khorasan, Tabriz, Bosnia, the Balkans, the Russian
border and other parts of the Ottoman Empire in order to show their products and
capabilities. With the rise of the Empire, it became much easier for goldsmiths to find the
metals and precious stones that they needed for production. During and after the reign of
Suleiman the Magnificent, Istanbul became one of the world’s most prominent centers for
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 wires. Since the wire used is often extremely delicate, this technique
requires an almost infinite degree of patience. In the past, filigree was used for women’s
belts, bracelets, earrings and brooches. Filigreed women’s accessories are now produced
in only a few places in Istanbul and in a couple of places in Anatolia, namely Beypazari
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 woven together. Wickerwork is used mostly for silver
jewellery such as necklaces, bracelets and earrings. Wickerwork products are mostly used
in Mardin, Beypazarı and Trabzon.
Today, the Kapalıçarşı (Covered Bazaar in İstanbul) is one of the most important silver
jewellery centers in Turkey. The history of the Kapalıçarşı dates back to the 15 th Century.
The core of the Bazaar was constructed between 1451-1481, during the reign of Sultan
Mehmet the Conqueror. The Bazaar was the centre of the domestic and international trade
of the Ottoman Empire and it is still the most important trading centre of Istanbul for
© Republic of Turkey – Ministry of Economy, 2012 3
handicrafts and its famous worldwide. It is assumed that nearly % 90 of silver used in
Turkey is used in Kapalıçarşı. Also you can find silver jewellery items that come from
Trabzon, Eskişehir, Beypazarı, Mardin-Midyat, Urfa and Gaziantep.
Turkish jewellery products are inspired by unique, rare collections of jewellery from
different civilizations and cultures that have lived in Anatolia. In addition, handcraft and
high technological production techniques coexist in jewellery design and production. Now
Turkish jewelers are able to combine this unique, historical and cultural heritage with
modern production and design capabilities and present its products to the world.
Although silver jewellery constitutes a small part of the total Turkish jewellery exports, the
sector has increased its exports significantly in the past ten years. The export value of
silver jewellery sector was 1.7 million dollars in 1999, however it reached 103,1 million US
Dollars by the end of 2011.
In 2011, the major destinations for silver jewellery exports were the USA, Germany, Spain,
Saudi Arabia, Romania and the Russian Federation. Turkish silver jewellery was exported
to some 100 countries around the world in 2011.
The Turkish silver jewellery industry also enjoys large sales to foreigners visiting Turkey.
The sales to tourists usually increases between April and September in the Mediterranean
and Aegean parts of 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 and
“İstanbul Jewellery Show – IJS” takes place in March, both in İstanbul. “Izmir
JEWEX” is organized in Izmir
“Cukurova Gold and Jewellery Fair” takes place in Gaziantep in May.
İstanbul Minerals and Metals Exporters’ Associations (IMMIB)
Turkish Jewellery Association
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