Being the wife of a Londoner, trips to Blighty every year or two are a must! I’m not complaining, I love London and all it has to offer, particularly the ease with which you can access the rest of Europe. On one such trip, we decided to explore the ancient city of Istanbul. Both my husband and I are avid travellers and love learning about different cultures and the arts, architecture, lifestyle and cuisine of people around the globe. Istanbul did not disappoint!
The city of Istanbul is of course, famous for straddling Asia and Europe, and the Bosphorus is a major trade route connecting East and West. It is one city where you will find treasures from across the globe – ancient handcrafted goods from India, Morocco and Egypt mingle seamlessly with the brash, modern gadgets from Japan, USA and Germany.
My husband and I were expecting our first baby and we were beyond excited! It was early October and the weather in Istanbul was perfect. Having arrived in the city late at night, I was very tired and my only thought was a comfortable bed. However, as tired as I was, I remember seeing a portrait of a beautiful, Ottoman style diamond ring in an brilliant Mediterranean blue hanging outside this quaint little jewellery shop in the hotel lobby. My brain registered this for later exploration.
We woke up bright and early the next morning ready to explore the city. As is my tendency, I quickly finished breakfast and left my husband to have his coffee at leisure while I went in search of that ring! Since my husband is less than enthusiastic about shopping, I usually try to sneak off and shop while he’s otherwise occupied. Popping into the boutique, I was greeted with a warm smile from a woman I would quickly come to call a friend. Veronik was charming and sincere and had a passion for jewellery that rivalled my own! And the jewels!! Oh the jewels!! The jewels were fabulous!
Now, I may have more of a passion for jewels than your average person, but that also means I am hard to please. I’m not easily impressed, but in this little shop, I found jewel after jewel that left me breathless. From the cut of the gems to the unique settings and brilliant lacquer work, every piece was a stunner. We got to talking and one thing led to another and before I knew it, we were making plans to visit Veronik’s husband, Artur at his workshop and see firsthand where the magic is created. The thought did cross my mind that Kiran may not be so happy with the change in plans, but I also knew he would humour his pregnant wife. But what started off as a dutiful visit, ended up being one of the most enjoyable days we have had. After visiting the workshop we ended up going for lunch with Artur and Veronik and really got to know them… lunch led to afternoon coffee… and dinner… and even a little dancing…
Artur started crafting jewellery when he was just 16 years old. Being of Armenian background, crafting jewels was in his blood. He had watched his mentor, his father’s friend from their ancestral village in Armenia, create amazing jewellery from a young age and Artur was enthralled by the ability to turn a block of gold and rough stones into works of art. So it is not surprising that Artur started experimenting with gold and stones very early in life. The craftsman was happy to teach him the skills but he was an exacting master. It wasn’t just another piece of jewellery to be sold, Artur was told, it was something that would be treasured for years to come, handed down from generation to generation. That is how a true craftsman creates. To this day, Artur creates with this same passion and exacting attention to detail.
That ring came home with me (along with a few other pieces…) and anytime my husband finds an occasion to shower me with special gifts to add to my collection, he knows to call Artur.
(Artur’s creations are custom commissioned and made-to-order and sold exclusively through Chakraas in North America).
- January 14, 2016