While my husband and I both met in New York (and continue to live here), we decided to get married back home in Turkey. Our wedding took place on September 16, 2017, in a town called Ayvalik, on the Northern Aegean coast. It’s directly across the Greek island of Lesbos, which is accessible by ferry. Ayvalik is a charming town known for its quaint streets, fish restaurants and olive oil production. We had a welcome party the day before the wedding on our family’s olive farm, and the actual wedding on Cunda Island, one of the islands around Ayvalik, at a hotel called Ortunc in an isolated bay.
Turkish weddings consist of a short civil ceremony that usually starts around sunset, and is followed by dinner and dancing the night away. Everything was outside from start to finish, so we were lucky that the weather was warmer than usual for mid-September. I wore a long-sleeved dress by Israeli designer Lihi Hod.
I’ve always believed that what makes fine jewelry special is having a sentimental quality associated with it – whether it’s a family heirloom or the empowerment associated with self-purchasing. Given that I’ve been designing jewelry professionally for five years, it was never a question that I would create the jewelry for my wedding. And I ended up doing it all: making our wedding bands, creating a pair of cufflinks and matching tuxedo studs for my groom, Berke, making earrings and a cuff that I wore at our welcome party (and every day since), and ultimately re-designing my engagement ring after a year of happily wearing it (only because I can and do so for a living). All of these future heirlooms are highly personal, yet relate in various ways to my work and design aesthetic. Here are their stories.
Engagement Ring & Wedding Bands
Berke proposed with a beautiful, classic solitaire last May. He worked on the ring with jewelers that I partner with on custom engagement rings for my clients. It was a complete surprise, and I happily wore the ring for about a year before having the urge to redesign it ever so slightly. I kept the ring’s metal as platinum, thinned out the band to proportions of my liking and changed it from a four to a six-prong setting. I also heightened the setting enough to be able to stack my wedding bands flush against it. These small details mattered to me in terms of look but also function.
I decided to pair the engagement ring with a set of two wedding bands, because why have one when you can have two?! One of them is a classic round wedding band, in 18k rose gold. It matches Berke’s platinum wedding band, which I also made. He wanted something simple, and I liked the idea of stylistically matching our bands. I wanted mine to be in rose gold because I’ve always loved the contrast of rose gold with platinum, and I wanted to add a small pop of color to the set. My second wedding band is the ‘Night Sky’ ring from my collection. It features light pink (almost lavender), grey, and white diamonds all mixed together, set in black rhodium-plated 18k white gold. The color of the ring is mesmerizing in person, especially in natural sunlight. I knew I would never get bored with this combination of colors, and it adds a certain amount of edginess to an otherwise classic ensemble.
The cufflinks that Berke wore to the wedding were my birthday present to him. He had been asking me to make him something since we started dating, but I was waiting for the perfect occasion. I made them knowing that he would wear them to the wedding. They feature hand-carved chrysoprase stones set in a 14k gold hexagonal shape. I’ve used the hexagon since my first collection, and it’s a shape that I keep coming back to. Chrysoprase is also a stone I’ve been using in my work for the past year. It has an amazing bright green color that really comes to life in sunlight. I knew that they would provide for a beautiful contrast with his navy tux. Two weeks before we left for Turkey, he asked me to make him matching tuxedo studs. They were a mad rush to complete, but were successfully completed the day before we flew to Turkey for our wedding!
The Cuff With Emeralds
Traditionally in Turkey, the groom’s side will gift the bride fine jewelry when they get married. Since I have particular taste and prefer designing my own jewelry, Berke’s parents offered to have me design my own gift. That’s how the idea of making myself a cuff was born. Both the cuff and the earrings I wore the day of the wedding were their present to me, which adds a special and sentimental touch. I wanted to make myself an everyday piece that incorporated Berke’s birthstone (emeralds). Engraving the date of our wedding (in Roman numerals) was a beautiful way to commemorate the occasion and add sentimentality to the piece. I haven’t taken the cuff off since making it.
The Wedding Earrings
My wedding earrings were by far the most challenging and rewarding of piece I have ever worked on. I started thinking about them as soon as I found my dress, which had a deep-v neck and subtle beading detail. The dress had a slightly vintage vibe, so I wanted the earrings to have a modern design that would make for an interesting contrast. I knew that I wanted the earrings to have movement (for the dance floor!), and I knew I didn’t want a typically ‘bridal’ piece, as I wanted to continue wearing them after the wedding. I had a clear vision for the earrings as soon as I started thinking about them but had a hard time sourcing the necessary materials from my regular suppliers in New York. I ended up having to source rough opal from a mine in Indonesia! Talk about going directly to the source. Finding the right type of chain for the fringe was also an arduous process. The fabrication was complicated as well, so I worked with a duo of amazing master jewelers that typically do one-of-a-kind work. Ultimately the earrings were as rewarding to wear as they were difficult to bring to life. I can’t wait for an occasion to wear them again!
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