One of Hollywood’s favorite celebrity designers visits Seattle for some one-on-one time with Seattleite.
Jewelry designer to the stars, Gurhan Orhan showed off some of his spring designs at the fine jewelry boutique at Nordstrom Downtown Seattle on Saturday May 5th. Luckily for us he made a little time to chat with me
about his Spring 2012 collection and dish about some of his best career moments.
The designer, who hails from Ankara, Turkey, took a life-changing trip to Istanbul in the early nineties during which he was introduced to a gleaming sheet of 24-karat gold and immediately dedicated his life to crafting jewelry from it. He developed revolutionary techniques to work with this often-challenging metal. “The hammered texture is our signature. It has a functional reason, too. As you hammer the gold it becomes harder and more workable. It started out as functional and has become a kind of DNA for our product.”
The thing I find most striking about Gurhan’s designs is his unyielding tunnel vision to his personal aesthetic. Although exceedingly humble regarding his enviable design career, he has never tried to fit in with the crowd of designers in New York, or anywhere else for that matter. Working with a historically difficult metal, mastering it with his own techniques, and drawing inspiration from historical Roman and Byzantine jewelry design, he makes pieces that are truly one of a kind. ”Usually in my work, there’s no great trend. I try to make more classic and all-time wearable jewelry.”
A laundry list of celebrities have not only worn, but collected Gurhan’s signature designs including Sandra Bullock and Gwen Stefani. Brad Pitt has also been a loyal customer for years buying Gurhan designs for both Jennifer Aniston and Angelina Jolie. In 2007, Gurhan was surprised to find a striking photo of Angelina Jolie wearing one of his gold statement necklaces on the cover of National Jeweler magazine. “It was a total surprise. One day we entered the office; usually they put the mail under the door. I opened the door and saw that magazine on the floor and I said to my wife, ‘Oh, somebody’s joking with us.” Of course this was no joke, but rather an iconic photo that put Gurhan’s designs into the minds and hearts of jewelry enthusiasts all one the globe.
It was quite an honor for the hard working jewelry designer who was initially greeted by a country who considered yellow gold passé. “When I came to the US in ’97 everything was white. It was quite weird, my gold color.” Gurhan set up shop in New York and slowly built a community of admirers who loved his designs for their classic yet unique aesthetic. As soon as you take a peak at his pieces you’ll be hooked, too.
You can find a selection of Gurhan’s 24-karat gold designs at Nordstrom.com.