1954Gurhan Orhan was born in 1954 in Ankara, Turkey. A precocious child, he was notorious for his love of tinkering. Gurhan’s mother often remembers finding her electronics in pieces on the floor, as it was Gurhan’s pleasure to take things apart for the sole purpose of putting them back together. This childhood love of challenges would become very clear in Gurhan’s later desire to conquer 24 karat pure gold.
1970sAs a young man, Gurhan studied Mathematics and Business at the University of Ankara. His highly acute and analytical mind was cultivated through these early studies, in which he honed the skills later applied to solving problems with using pure metals. This time is also when Gurhan began to develop his proprietary design techniques.
1980sDuring the 1980’s Gurhan combined his technical knowledge and desires with a love of music, delving into sound engineering. His entrepreneurial spirit simultaneously led him to foray into a succession of owning nightclubs and rock bars. Gurhan’s zest for life and charismatic personality quickly lead him to become a local nightlife celebrity in Ankara and Istanbul.
Late 1980sThe late 1980’s called upon Gurhan’s childhood love of tinkering, which by then had translated into a fascination for the workings of watches. Inspired, Gurhan moved to Switzerland to learn the craft of fine watch making. He worked with antique watches – restoring, reassembling, and remaking old fob watches into art pieces. Several works from this time were featured in exhibitions throughout Europe, and attracted a fortunate few collectors who acquired these very limited creations.
Early 1990sIn the early 90’s Gurhan took a casual visit to Istanbul, forever changing the course of his life. He was handed a sheet of pure 24 karat gold and was immediately drawn to its warmth and sensuality. In a single moment Gurhan’s future became clear; he would create fine jewelry using this unique material.
1994The first pieces of GURHAN are created! Local Istanbul artisans had long-dismissed the idea of using pure 24 karat gold in jewelry, claiming it was too soft and heavy. Embracing this challenge, Gurhan rejected modern teachings and instead studied the techniques used by ancient Goldsmiths thousands of years ago. By locking himself in his Grand Bazaar workshop he “reincarnated” the ancients, bringing their craft into today’s modern world.
1995By the mid-90’s Gurhan had begun selling his creations in a small shop in the resort town of Bodrum, Turkey. It was here that Australian-born, New York-based investment banker Fiona Tilley discovered GURHAN. Enamored by his distinctive designs, Fiona sought out Gurhan, convinced that his pieces would be hugely successful in the United States.
1997Two years later, Gurhan finally decided the time was right to visit New York. Along with Fiona, who at this point has joined him as a business partner, Gurhan launched his line in the United States. The collection was quickly embraced as a breath of fresh air in the world of designer jewelry, with legendary Barneys New York among the first to “discover” GURHAN. The U.S. market was enchanted by the rich yellow hue of pure gold, embracing the “fingerprints” - left by Gurhan himself - that make each piece individual and unique.
1998GURHAN received its first of many editorial features in InStyle magazine. The placement heralded Gurhan’s designs as being on the forefront of fashion, an accolade Gurhan continues to receive over a decade later.
1999From their initial meeting four years prior, Gurhan and Fiona’s unique business partnership is fuelled by an equally passionate personal relationship. They marry in Sydney, Australia in January of 1999.
2000Gurhan’s Spring Bracelet was awarded Grand Prize in the World Gold Council’s ‘Gold for the New Millennium’ Design Competition. An iconic GURHAN creation, the Spring Bracelet continues to be successfully reincarnated today.
2001 Town and Country, the ultimate authority on luxury lifestyle, selected GURHAN as one of its “Top Ten Things We Love.” GURHAN is now in the company of prestigious brands such as Bedat, Cartier, and Bulgari.
2002 The epitome of sophistication, ‘Sex and the City’ power girl Samantha Jones is portrayed wearing a GURHAN Mabe pearl ring. In the ultimate fashion world coup, subsequent episodes feature this trendsetting show’s characters adorned in Gurhan.
2003 The First Ladies of GURHAN. Former First Lady, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton wore her pair of GURHAN Amulet earrings to the Democratic Convention. Former First Lady Laura Bush owns a square pair, which she wore for an appearance on The Tonight Show and at the Republican Convention.
2004 Promotional efforts increased as GURHAN continued to expand as a business, including a national advertising campaign in W. In addition, photos of Gurhan’s stunning sapphire necklace were plastered throughout the busy streets of Manhattan.
September 2005 By applying his signature techniques used with 24 karat gold, Gurhan has now conquered the unique world of platinum. Traditionally used for delicate bridal pieces, Gurhan rocked the jewelry world by using platinum to create highly textural designs and incorporating unusual stones, such as aquamarines and blue topaz. As he explained, “I did pure gold. Now, with platinum, I’m telling people that I don’t have one child, I have two.
October 2005 Proving their love goes beyond precious metals, Fiona and Gurhan become the proud parents of a wonderful Yorkie, Tipsy. Tipsy quickly becomes the mascot of GURHAN, faithfully attending every trunk show, exhibition and function with Gurhan himself.
2006 By 2006 Gurhan had become a bona fide celebrity in his native Turkey. A profile of Gurhan, Fiona, and their baby Tipsy in Samdan magazine detailed Gurhan’s prolific career, capturing his meteoric rise to fame as a jewelry designer.
2007 Celebrities and socialites alike had long been spotted wearing the distinctive designs of GURHAN, but when this striking picture of Angelina Jolie graced the cover of National Jeweler, a legendary shot was born.
September 2007 The growing international market for GURHAN was crowned by its launch in Harrods of London, a welcome addition to an already impressive UK presentation in Harvey Nichols. Liberty of London and Selfridges would also soon be swept away by the GURHAN fever.
2008 Ever a Renaissance man, Gurhan followed his passion for beauty to a love of photography. Similar to his work in fine jewelry, Gurhan is completely self-taught in the art of photography. His inaugural exhibit was launched at Saks Fifth Avenue’s Flagship New York store, which featured collection of photographic works throughout the ground floor.
September 2008 After his enormously successful photography debut, Gurhan took his passion to new heights by shooting the brand’s 2008 national advertisement campaign. Emphasizing the hand-crafted qualities of each design, Gurhan photographed the jewelry, and tools used to create the pieces, directly on his workbench.
January 2009 Gurhan continued to defy expectations and build his own path. Having mastered pure gold and pure platinum, he introduced pure silver to his collection of signature works. Regardless of the harsh economic times, Gurhan’s new creations were immediately embraced.
June 2009 Based on the votes of thousands of Retailers in the United States, Gurhan won the “Best in Gold” Retailers Choice awarded, presented by JQ magazine. Recognized as a pioneer in pure 24 karat gold, this award underscored Gurhan’s success as a designer as much as the success of the GURHAN empire.
2009 The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the National Geographic Society commissioned Gurhan to create a jewelry collection commemorating their groundbreaking exhibition, Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures of the National Museum, Kabul. This project recognized Gurhan’s unique contribution to the world of jewelry, celebration his reincarnation of ancient goldsmith techniques.
2010Gurhan once again defies the boundaries of traditional jewelry design by introducing his new 4/24 line, featuring a unique combination of an early Ottoman alloy containing 4 karats of gold and 24 karat gold, as well as a proprietary new way of setting diamonds.
2011Gurhan"s Watch Takes 1st Place in the 2011 Couture Design Awards
2012 GURHAN Launches Couture Silver
2013 GURHAN opens new showroom in Manhattan's Union Square, a hub of designer retail stores in the heart of New York City. GURHAN’s heritage of design is reflected in the industrial yet elegant space, featuring a distinctive glass-enclosed showroom that creates a stunning new destination for our retail partners.
2014 In 2014, we fulfilled a dream and opened the GURHAN Atelier, a retail store that offers guests the opportunity to have a personal shopping experience alongside designer, Gurhan Orhan. Located in the luxury shopping neighborhood of Tribeca, a favorite for the discerning New Yorker and visitors from abroad, the GURHAN Atelier serves as a business model for a hybrid retail and workshop destination space where customers can get personalized attention, and can work on creative projects directly with Gurhan. We invite you to visit the Atelier whenever you are in New York.
The Future Nearly two decades after Gurhan first discovered pure 24 karat gold, GURHAN continues to evolve and grow. With Retailers in over 15 countries featuring Gurhan’s three different lines, created from three different pure metals, GURHAN has become a leader in both the fine jewelry and fashion worlds. What comes next is an exciting guess!