Growing up in a family of Ottoman art collectors, it feels destined that Turkish designer Begum Kiroglu would be creating jewellery that celebrates traditional craftsmanship.
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She recalled: “Like many little girls, I was always interested in jewellery, dressing up, makeup. I remember playing with my grandmother and my mother's jewellery. I was begging them to open the safe for me so I could discover what was inside.”
After obtaining degrees in business and fashion management in Italy, Kiroglu pursued a master’s in Chinese culture in Shanghai before working in a Chinese state-owned company. It was then that she started her jewellery brand as a sideline. Begum Khan was launched in 2012, with the first pair of custom cufflinks for her brother’s wedding.
“I’ve always loved cufflinks. When you look at a gentleman's jacket, sometimes you see the cufflinks, sometimes you don't. It's somehow a little surprising element,” Kiroglu shared.
When business took off, Kiroglu decided to move back to Istanbul. Her creations have grown into a treasure trove of fantastical pieces, all housed in a wonderland-like showroom, located in Istanbul’s bustling Nisantasi neighbourhood. A giant neon beetle flutters its wings at the front window, welcoming visitors to Begum Khan’s glamorous and whimsical world of Ottoman antiques, modern art and artisanal jewellery.
“We didn't want to just display jewellery because in a way, we don't sell jewellery, we sell art, we sell dreams,” Kiroglu explained. “I live in a dream world. Life is a stage for me, when I'm sleeping, I see full scenes, I see rooms decorated, the people, the hair, dresses and I see jewellery on people."
The Art-Deco inspired boudoir displays pieces from gold-plated and diamond-paved brooches to statement earrings. Designs with scarabs, turtles and evil eyes are among the more popular ones. “I want to create pieces that are really contemporary, but at the same time, I want them to be timeless,” shared Kiroglu.