The tradition of wearing jewellery dates back to the very earliest periods of Anatolia and the Ottoman Empire and, as well as being used as an everyday adornment, jewellery plays an important social role in Turkey today. By the 16th century, Ottoman jewellery making was thriving, and gifts made of gold and precious gems are still given today to bring good fortune or mark milestone occasions.
Turkey remains an important producer of jewellery and offers beautiful examples of both traditional and new Anatolian jewellery throughout the country. Twice a year, Turkey holds one of the world’s top jewellery exhibitions in Istanbul, while Marmaris is home to Vogue’s Jewellery and Diamond Centre, a vast store of precious gems and metals.
From minimalist hoop earrings to elaborately decorated amulets, there are plenty of opportunities for visitors to Marmaris to find traditional jewellery to take back as souvenirs or follow the latest trends by purchasing classic items to wear on holiday.
From Ornate to Minimalist
At the height of the Ottoman Empire, jewellery pieces were highly ornamental and common motifs inspired by the beauty of the area’s natural surroundings included flowers, birds and butterflies. Ancient jewellery techniques were influenced by Roman and Hellenistic designs due to Turkey’s proximity to Greece, and there remains a rich heritage of craftsmanship throughout regions bordering the Aegean Sea.
Some jewellery shops in Marmaris still have their own workshops, and today jewellery-makers use their skills to add a modern touch to more contemporary designs. Current jewellery trends embrace minimalism, especially during the summer, when time-honoured accessories such as classic hoop earrings and in vogue anklets enhance a simpler and more basic mode of dressing as the weather gets warmer.
Motifs and Meanings
As well as embellishing everyday outfits, traditional pieces of Turkish jewellery often carry a special meaning. There is a wide range of talismans and amulets that reflect Anatolian folklore and, when worn as jewellery, usually around the neck, they offer protection or good luck to the wearer.
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A representation of an ‘evil eye’ has persisted as a protective talisman from Greek classical antiquity to the present day and is popular with both tourists and Turks. Another common talismanic symbol is the Hand of Fatima which can often be found in the form of a metalwork necklace charm or filigree earrings.
The symbol of a hand with an eye in the centre of the palm is thought to give the wearer protection against the evil eye and encourage good health and fortune.
Traditional Turkish Gems
While the traditional intricate metalwork known in Turkish as Telkari is used to create artistic pieces of jewellery, other single metals like gold and silver can be adorned with semi-precious gemstones. In Turkey, the most significant are smoky quartz, blue chalcedony, sepiolite, smoky quartz, jet and diaspore.
The latter can be located around the world but is most most notably found in Turkey’s southwestern Mugla Province in which Marmaris is situated, an area that has produced most of the cut diaspore currently in existence.
Although it can be difficult to facet – its name comes from the Greek for scatter as it easily falls apart when heated – it is one of Turkey’s most recognized gemstones, and while it is typically colourless it does also exist in brown, pink and yellow.
Turkey’s long and rich history of ornate jewellery-making continues to inspire contemporary creations which are adapted to more modern and minimalist trends. From traditional bustling bazaars to high end fashion stores, visitors to Marmaris have plenty of opportunities to browse both antique and modern jewellery and purchase items as souvenirs or to enhance their holiday wardrobe.