Skulls and roses, royal shields, chunky blackened silver chains, bones and vertebrae: If you’re looking for jewelry with an edge, Alp Sagnak is your go-to guy. For decades, the Turkish-born, New York City–based Sagnak (pictured, above) has been creating cheeky, character-filled designs that appeal to wearers of all genders. This year, he returned to the Design Collective at the JCK show in Las Vegas, and he had more than a few jewels up his sleeve. First, there’s his Roaring ’20s collection, in honor of art deco’s 100th anniversary. “I always loved art deco, so I made my own versions,” he says. “There are 13 pieces that are 13 spectacular women from the ’20s.” (Author Edith Wharton and blues singer Ma Rainey are just two of the women represented.) Then there’s Set in Stone—“different mottos written in diamonds.” And keep, ahem, an eye out for Evil Eye vs. Eye of the Evil, “my take on the evil eye.” If you’re a Sagnak fan, you might have guessed: His take on the universal motif involves another of his favorite themes—skulls.
Number of years in the biz: I started when I was in middle school—37 years.
Number of employees you oversee: 25
Family and pets: I have a 17-year-old son and a 13-year-old daughter, and according to my daughter, I am the grandfather of her dog, Star.
Describe your personal style: It is jeans and leather. I wear the jewelry I make.
First piece you ever designed: First thing I learned was how to cut a sheet of silver. It is very easy to make a sword when you first start, so it was that. Then when I got better, I cut a dragon. While I was looking if I did a good job, I placed it on the remaining sheet I cut it from. Then I picked up the dragon and realized the shadow of the dragon on the sheet. I loved it. Then I put a round gold wire in between the background and the dragon. That became my first-ever collection, Jeweled Ink.
The single piece of jewelry you’re most proud of: It is always the latest piece. These days I am making a candelabra with 2,500 carats black opal. That will be the piece.
Best advice you ever received: “May this be our worst day.”
Worst advice: Any advice that starts with “You know what you should do, you should…”
First job ever: Sweeping the floors, cleaning windows and display cases.
How did you get started designing jewelry? I started designing when I was studying engineering when I was 18; I started making jewelry when I was 27.
If you weren’t designing jewelry, what would you be doing? I wanted to be a basketball player when I was young. I want to be on stage now.
Favorite gemstone: At the moment, black opal.
Jewelry you’re wearing right now: I am wearing a gold vertebrae chain with diamonds, a spade-cut diamond earring, Batman ring, and some bracelets.
Five items on your desk right now: Castings, diamonds, bills, invoices, pictures of my son and daughter.
On your playlist: “If I Ain’t Got You,” Alicia Keys; “Gravity,” John Mayer; all songs by Bruno Mars and Led Zeppelin; Whitesnake unplugged
Exercise regimen: I am using an app called Muscle Booster, and I play basketball in a league called IndoorHoops.
What did you have for breakfast? Iced coffee with simple syrup.
Drink (daytime/evening): I drink whiskey three to four times a week with dinner.
First website you check every day (not your own!): Kitco.com
Scent: Pi by Givenchy
How do you unwind? I unwind on my motorcycle and spending time with people I love.
Who would play you in your life story? Tom Hardy. I think he is great at playing unique characters. Adrien Brody, Adam Driver, and Liev Schreiber as well.
Personal motto: “Embrace your shadow or it will kill you.”
Mars: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for the Recording Academy/Getty; coffee: RyanJLane/iStock/Getty; whiskey: Gresei/iStock/Getty; Hardy: Jay Maidment/© Sony Pictures Releasing/© Marvel Entertainment/Courtesy EverettFollow JCK on Instagram: @jckmagazine
Follow JCK on Twitter: @jckmagazine
Follow JCK on Facebook: @jckmagazine