As befits a city that's a couple hundred centuries old, Istanbul boasts its share of awe-inspiring landmarks and architectural marvels. Gilan, the 32-year-old family-owned jewelry firm based in the ancient Turkish metropolis, has crafted pieces—and even entire collections—in honor of the city's greatest: the Ottoman royal residence–turned–museum Topkapi Palace (jewels pay homage to its gardens with Gilan's trademark tulip-cut stones and rose-cut diamonds); the Bosphorus Bridge (ocean-blue chalcedony and waves of sapphire represent the river running between Europe and Asia); and—with this gold, rubellite, garnet, and diamond ring, part of Gilan's new Colors of Emotion collection—the Hagia Sophia. "It was built as a cathedral and then converted to a mosque," says international marketing manager Osman Gilan of the renowned basilica, which now functions as a museum. "Now it is the perfect example of Istanbul's heritage: different cultures living in perfect harmony."
"We like to call this ring Sunset on Hagia Sophia," says Osman. And how's this for authenticity? "It took more than one year to make this ring," he adds. "Our designer visited Hagia Sophia museum during different times of the day to capture the moments, angles of the sun, intensity of the colors."
The walls of the Hagia Sophia "have this pinkish and purple color, which is represented by the 14-carat rubellite and the enamel work," explains Osman. "When the sun is going down, the colorful glass gives the sunset color, which is represented by the [19 carats of] mandarin garnets."
It Takes a Village
"We had about 14 people who worked on this ring, handling the gold work, setting, enamel work, and polishing," says Osman of the piece, which retails for $34,500. Not to mention a few other unnamed helpers: "Plus all the workers and architects who built Hagia Sophia about 1,650 years ago."