The Making of Topkapi

Topkapi is one of my most intricate design and it came into being in the most marvellous and unexpected way...

My trip to Turkey led, unexpectedly, to a magical design for a ring. I awoke early one morning and walked down Soguk Cesme street to the Topkapi Palace. As I arrived through the mighty gateway, a series of courtyards unfolded, leading me further into the world of exquisitely drawn tulips on bowls, ceramics, paintings and architecture. The bright colours of red, green, turquoise and bright blue seem to be interpreted in endless combinations of varying dimensions. I had been reading Anna Pavord's wonderful book "The Tulip" and my notebook was full of sketches of these flowers, but none that seemed to quite work as a jewel

I wandered on into further courtyards and found a collection of diamond encrusted teacups in a dusty cabinet lined with faded red velvet. The extravagance in the cabinet was endless… and then my eye fell upon an even dustier collection of old hubbly bubbly pipes, their round and glowing orange-amber ends jumbled up together in a small bowl. Through the cabinet's thick glass I took a photo, hoping that perhaps the zoom would bring more detail.

I then promptly forgot all about the pipe ends until I collected the developed photographs back in London. It was only then that I saw what had been hidden before: the intricate pattern of diamonds and pearls that decorated each pipe end.

I took the photographs into the workshop and we discussed recreating these intricate patterns as a ring. The pipes were small, but a ring would be even smaller and there is only so small that you can cut a diamond. It took months, building sections that could be held together by a 'scaffolding', to create the Topkapi designs. As if this was not complicated enough for the craftsmen, I wanted the ring to feel as delicate as lace and yet be suitable to wear everyday.

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