The Stones of Grandbazaar by Fatoş Altınbaş, a tribute to the jewelry masters who are a part of the 500-year-old Grandbazaar tradition was brought to life after a two-year research process by the academician, which deepened her doctorate thesis “Handmade Jewelery Masters in Grandbazaar, A Transformation Story”. The book, photographed by French photographer Chloe Le Drezen, presents the history of the Grandbazaar to the reader in a simple and enjoyable way with its fairytale-esque flow.
The Stones of Grandbazaar, which draws attention to jewelry that is considered as an amulet against evils for thousands of years and a witness to the beautiful times, as well as to the lives of the jewelery masters in the Grandbazaar, sheds light to the exceptional multicultural structure and the unique history that insipres them.
Handmade jewelry manufacturers in Istanbul began to be influential with the construction of the Grandbazaar after the conquest of Istanbul by Fatih Sultan Mehmet and since then, they have never lost their impact in Istanbul in the same region. They have always been one of the most important traditional values of the city, gained an international reputation, and have maintained their fame for centuries.
The handmade jewelry masters of Istanbul continued to practice their profession in its traditional nature until the 1990s. They have maintained an equation combining high prices and abundant work with less masters than the demand from the market, without increasing the number of masters in their relatively protected and outward-closed universe. One can even say that, the masters have earned more than an average person working in craftsman work in Istanbul and their business was also sustainable.
Very few jewelry designers designing and producing handmade creative jewels in Istanbul have achieved great successes after 1990, and these achievements have manifested themselves with awards, national and international recognition and high profits. And therefore, handmade jewelry mastery in Istanbul needed to change paths since the 1990s. The market did not loose its business potential right away in the 1990s and the process of deceleration slowly progressed until the 2000s. In the twenty-first century, with the rapid developments in technology and capital, the craftsmen who could not suit their business with technology and creative design have lost their business in considerable volumes. The stagnation was at such a level that handmade jewelry craftsmen could not even find apprentices to work with them.
As a result, it is clear that the number of handmade jewelry manufacturers has decreased and continue to decrease but there will be a significant increase in the qualifications of the producers because the market eliminates handmade manufacturers who want to continue to produce counterfeit products and support manufacturers producing artistic, creative, original jewels. It is for certain that the profession of handmade jewelry will not fade away in Istanbul, but it will re-establish itself at a higher level by carrying out a significant change, and realizing more qualified, original and artistic projects.
With love and eternal respect to all artisans…