Atelier Minyon is Rocking the Fine Jewelry
July/13/2012 08:38 AM
Playing in Atelier Minyon
ROCK STAR Jewelry
Rock Star Music News
July 13, 2012
by Nicole Hanratty @LifeofaRockStar
FASHION ★ ATELIER MINYON ★ Interview
Life of a Rock Star™ editor, Nicole Hanratty, headed into New York City last month and spent some time interviewing one of the most talented fine jewelry designers in the city: Alp Sagnak of Atelier Minyon.
I’ve been looking forward to meeting Alp and his assistant Erin ever since they sent me a photo of a Handcrafted 18k white gold mesh diamond bracelet with 4.72 ct diamonds three years ago. Yes, I have been dreaming of the creative minds at Atelier Minyon behind that gorgeous piece ever since.
Stripping my body of all jewels other than my staple gold band family heirloom ring that was my great-great-great grandmothers, I dressed in a simple black short dress and grabbed a taxi down to Spring Street. I wanted zero distractions and all focus. The iPhone went to silent.
I entered the store in a bit of a haze, having not known what to really expect. I took in the Turkish decor and warm friendly smiles with gratitude. I instantly felt at home, (and not just because I was surrounded by fine jewels.)
Alp offered to make me a cup of Turkish coffee and I just couldn’t say no. The tiny china cup came with a warning, “It’s very strong and there will be grounds in the last few sips--don’t drink those.” New places, new experiences and new friends all call for coffee, so I imbibed.
Alp could not wait to show me his most recent design, a diamond studded web cuff tailored to fit your wrist with a secret code embedded within. He took me to the back of the store and turned out the lights. He placed the bracelet under fluorescent lighting and it lit up with a magical new code of colors. The diamonds had secrets that were only revealed in the dark. The piece is very cloak and dagger.
Any love story has a deeper seeded meaning and this diamond studded cuff from Atelier Minyon in New York is no different. In the right lighting, the whole cuff and color of the diamonds is transformed.
See a short video here:
This display prompted me to show Alp the English hallmarks hidden inside my grandmother’s wedding band that carries a sort of secret code of its’ own. Erin and I laughed as Alp noted the “t” stamped inside and said, “the first thing I think of is that means twitter.”
Actually, it means the ring was stamped in the year 1817. But it could very well have been fashion forward and a trend setting design for its’ time!
Then Erin led me through the store to play. She pulled out every piece of jewelry upon which my eyes visibly embraced. Each new design astounded me more than the last. Diamonds that glow in the dark, hand woven gold tapered-to-fit necklaces, studded cuffs tailored to the shape of your wrist, bracelets shaped like snakes, gems framed by art, to-die-for stackable bone rings and a necklace that stole my heart with a hand carved dish holding a solitaire diamond in the middle telling a story of a naive inner soul surrounded by a rougher edge.
Finally, I sat down to talk with Alp about this clash between the naive and wild-side he mixes in all of his designs.
He explained, “So for example this piece is black on one side and white on the other side. And again depending on your mood sometimes you will have clashes with your egos and sometimes they will go together.
Each piece of our collections have these two features also. So let's say we are known by our skulls. Some of the skull pieces, they are consistent of two skull faces sometimes they are facing each other and sometimes they are facing outwards in one piece.
He points to the stackable bone rings. So this is your naive, and this is your wild side. Black and white again. You can use them as jackets to your existing solitaires, but the purpose is those two egos I was trying to explain.”
Alp hands me the rings to try on, but my finger is bandaged from having lobbed off the top on a new razor blade days earlier. (No exaggeration, it took three days to achieve coagulation.) My embarrassment over the bandages apparent, Alp looked at me with empathy. Apparently his carving tools have gotten the best of him at times as well. He encourages me to try the ring on a different finger and says with all sincerity, “Any imperfection looks fantastic on humankind.”
He shows me the skull rings he is wearing and explains, “This is called the Indian and this is called the nest egg. In life sometimes you make a lot of money and sometimes you are broke. That's the ring for reminding you of those days. When you are good and making money everything is happy and you forget about the bad days and you make mistakes again and again. That's the reason we made this nest egg. Back then, I didn't know what it meant but Erin is our English teacher,
Erin interjects: "Informal"
Alp continues, “And she said it's called a nest egg. She's wearing the pink version. This is the ring for reminding you of that. This is the piece Erin put together. The skull is in this case her wild side, the solitaire is her feminine side.
Erin adds: “Or conservative.”
I ask, “So every piece is designed that way with the two sides in mind?”
Alp: “Yeah, I would say yes.”
That got me wondering about who wears Atelier Minyon. “Are you selling more to women or to men?”
Alp: “I think all around the world women are spending more on jewelry than men. There is a market for men. Of course we have a lot of men and gay customers also. But women are paying the most. Mostly women are liking and the men are paying for it, (he says with a smile and laughs).
Erin: “That's how it goes a lot! (She laughs too.) A lot of people don't think that our jewelry is fine jewelry right off from the window. Because I think to the average [person] or to the laymen ...they think that designs like this are fun and doesn't mean necessarily that they are going to be real. …There are two different types of jewelry wearers I think also. There is the type of person who needs to wear all their diamonds and needs everyone to know the brand--or the Tiffany's or the David Yurman’s--then everyone knows they spent "x" amount of dollars on it. And then the other type that spends "x" amount of dollars and doesn't care or want anyone to know what they spent on it. And that's our type.”
Erin continues, “A common question to Alp is ‘Who's your customer?’ and he says, 'the confident customer.'"
Alp: “Everyone needs different looks. Mostly the reason people buy us is that they appreciate the detailed work.”
Alp then flipped around the necklace I didn’t want to let out of my sight that had the solitaire in the middle of the hand chiseled dish that framed it so beautifully. I gasped. The back was even more beautiful than the front. It was a stunning surprise. I would never have even turned the piece upside down to look. The intricacy and detail on the back side was just as brilliant as the front. It didn’t have to be done, but as he had just mentioned, it is the Atelier Minyon attention to detail which sells itself.
It’s hard not to notice the brother / sister type relationship that Alp and Erin have, and it makes the dynamic of the shop even more alluring.
Erin: “Alp came here three years ago, he was commuting back and forth to turkey every three months. Then finally he moved his wife and two kids here. He moved them here two years ago this August. But it is a family business. I'm not by blood in the family, but...
Alp interrupting and pointing to Erin says in his thick Turkish accent, “She taught me everything about the United States. All of these complicated sentences I'm putting together, when I'm speaking with you, she is the constructor of it.”
Erin replies, “Sometimes he gives me too much credit. But some things I'll take credit for.”
I certainly hope she takes credit for her rock star hospitality, and am so happy to have met new friends.
For more information:
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SoHo, New York 10012
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