Behind the collection: Turquoise Mountain x OH
We are proud to introduce Turquoise Mountain x Ottoman Hands, a collaboration collection created by skilled jewellers in the heart of Kabul’s old city.
We go behind the scenes to discover the making of this collection and speak with our founder, Deniz Gurdal, about all things jewellery.
- What drew you to Turquoise Mountain and how did the collaboration start?
I first came across Turquoise Mountain in Paris at a jewellery trade show. Ottoman Hands was exhibiting there and I remember spotting the Turquoise Mountain stand with its colourful jewellery collection. I started talking to the Creative Projects Manager, Katherine, about the charity and its cause, and thought how amazing it would be to work together in the future to support the jewellery makers of Afghanistan.
Following that, I contacted Turquoise Mountain in 2020 to discuss a potential collaboration and our production meetings started. This collection has been 3 years in the making, due to the significant political and societal changes in the region, however it was so reassuring to see how Turquoise Mountain was absolutely committed to staying in Afghanistan and continuing to support the artisans and staff during these difficult times.
As a female-founded and led business, we believe now it's the time, more than ever, to support the brave women of Afghanistan and their families, we hope we are able to do so by creating work and training opportunities in collaboration with Turquoise Mountain.
Every piece is made by hand, using traditional practices and set with Lapis Lazuli, the ancient gemstone of Afghanistan.
- What was the inspiration behind the pieces?
The inspiration behind the pieces came from Turquoise Mountain’s main collection. I love the artisan designs and how their pieces reflect Afghan heritage. I took the main geometric elements of their intricate pieces and implemented our modern twist to the designs.
Every piece is made by hand, using traditional practices and set with Lapis Lazuli, the ancient gemstone of Afghanistan. Its name means “stone from heaven”, so we created designs with celestial and geometric elements in 18ct gold-plated sterling silver or brass.
I am very happy with the result, as there are pieces for everyday stacking and also pieces for jewellery lovers who are seeking statement designs.
- Which is the significance of using Lapis Lazuli gemstones?
I always loved Lapis Lazuli and its deep blue colour. Lapis Lazuli has been used in many ornamental objects and jewellery throughout the region’s history, so the pieces set with Lapis Lazuli reminds me of jewellery from different times and has an antique feel.
From antiquity, Lapis Lazuli has been worn in the belief that it will ward off evil and has been associated with strength and courage, royalty and wisdom, intellect and truth, which is also very close to the symbolism behind our signature Evil Eye collection.
Additionally, to complement the Lapis blue, we have used the Green Chrysocolla gemstone, which also has healing properties, that soothe, calm and inspire.
- Why is artisan craftsmanship important to Ottoman Hands?
Since the brand was established, every piece of our jewellery has been handcrafted by skilled artisans in small workshops. This is one of the main characteristics of our brand, which I am very proud of.
When we produce a handcrafted piece, I know that we create more jobs for local people, support jewellery-making traditions, the artisans, and their families. I know that someone spends real time and energy to make each piece.
For me, every piece tells a story about the designer, the maker, and the wearer. If you remove the handmade element out of the production, there is something missing in the story, it does not have the same meaning.
- How long does it take to make the pieces?
The process of launching a small collection for Ottoman Hands takes around 10 months. This includes the first sketches, sampling and getting the pieces made. Depending on the design, it takes around half a day to make one piece from cutting the metal, to soldering, to stone setting and polishing.
We should all appreciate the amount of time and hard work that goes into creating a handmade jewellery piece, it is what makes our pieces unique and perfectly-imperfect.
- Why are they made in small batches?
At Ottoman Hands, we are committed to be a sustainable jewellery brand. We always look to minimize our environmental impact and look for every possible way to do this. Jewellery made in small batches helps us to not over stock and always offer our followers something new and exciting throughout the season.