Growing up in Istanbul, Meresh Ozagar of Ista Jewelry was surrounded by tulips: in tiles, on fabrics, in ironworks on gates and windows, and in her mother’s garden. “Everybody had some tulips,” she says. So when she launched her jewelry design business in 2009, the flower, naturally, became part of her style. “I put it on every single piece I make,” she says. “I mix and match it in every piece, and use it on prongs and in shanks.”
She comes from a family of jewelers—an uncle taught her to fabricate gold in the Grand Bazaar—but also earned a Bachelor’s degree in ceramics and fine art from a Turkish university. And when she and her husband moved to the United States nearly 20 years ago for more education (hers at Parsons and the Fashion Institute of Technology), she did project work in ceramics until the urge struck to revisit jewelry design. “Clay helped me appreciate jewelry more because it’s so easy for me to carve—that’s why I use wax,” she explains.
Jewelry designer Mevesh Ozagar
Editor’s Note: Ozagar is being profiled because her work has such “pretty appeal,” and because using tulips as a signature style is truly unique in the world of jewelry. She also has limited distribution (just seven U.S. accounts!), makes all pieces herself by hand in the City, and uses a price-point–friendly metal mix of silver and 18k gold.
JCK: Describe your signature style.
Mevesh Ozagar: I make 14k gold with blackened silver for women ages 18 to 70—it’s a wide range of jewelry looks. I use the tulip motif, which I adopted from the old tiles I grew up with in Turkey. There were so many tulips in my background from doing ceramics; tiles featured tulips, and tulips were in our house everywhere.
JCK: When did you launch Ista Jewelry?
JCK: Explain your design process.
MO: I have a Bachelor’s degree in ceramics and fine art, so I sketch everything and build from wax and silver.
JCK: Is your jewelry cast or fabricated?
MO: It’s a little bit of both, and is mostly made from scratch and cast.
JCK: Where is the jewelry made?
MO: In New York City. People think that because I come from Turkey that perhaps my jewelry is made there, but it’s not. Everything I make I do by myself, from scratch, in the U.S. I’m not doing anything in Turkey, or in China or anywhere else overseas. I have a stone setter in the City who helps me, then otherwise, I do everything myself.
JCK: What materials do you work with and why?
MO: I love prehnite because I love the inclusions, and I mix silver and gold—18k gold and blackened silver—and work in 14k gold.
JCK: How many U.S. accounts do you have?
MO: Seven, including Be on Park in Winter Park, Fla.
JCK: How many international accounts do you have?
MO: Five in England (including Kibiri) and Turkey
JCK: What jewelry shows do you exhibit in?
MO: Jewelers of America Summer Show 2011, and the SMART Shows in Chicago and Dallas. I might exhibit in Niche in Las Vegas, but I haven’t decided.
JCK: What jewelry design awards have you received or been nominated for?
MO: In Turkey, I took first place three times in a World Gold Council competition.
JCK: What is the starting retail price for each metal you work in?
MO: $300 silver, and $700 in 14k gold.
JCK: Tell us something about yourself that’s not jewelry-specific.
MO: I have a 1-year-old long-haired male German Shepherd named Ketchup (my kids named him).
Ozagar’s 1-year-old German Shepherd, Ketchup