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The adventure of jewelry making on the Anatolian soil dates back to thousands of years, and today it has become one of the fastest growing sectors in modern Turkey.
The metal, once used as money, has also been handcrafted into jewelry since the seventh century BC. Coins made of gold and silver were used in Lydia (a Roman province located in today’s Turkey) as a monetary tool. The first gold refinery and mint in Anatolia was established by Karun, the king of Lydia. The metal money was used for the first time in history by the Lydian, who founded a refinery and mint in the Aegean Region in 630 BC, in order to coin money from the gold they mined.
Turkey, the legendary land of Roman emperors and Muslim sultans, is once again the center of a thriving gold jewelry export industry that some experts believe will rival Italy’s within 10 years. The country’s current specialty is creating European designs at lower cost. But forward-thinking Turkish manufacturers foresee competitive challenges and are looking for ways tointegrate their country’s long history of jewelry design into pieces that are also uniquely modern.
Istanbul, the center of Turkey’s modern jewelry industry, was an international trading mecca for gold and precious gems for thousands of years. Long before anyone dreamed of Fifth Ave., Bond St. or the Fabourg St. Honoré, Turkish jewelers were selling their wares in Istanbul’s exotic Grand Bazaar.
For centuries, Turks have flocked to the jewelry shops of Istanbul's Grand Bazaar to trade their jewelry pieces that were handed down through generations, or the gold bars that were stashed under pillows for saving. In fact, historically, the Turks have always preferred keeping their money in gold form rather than depositing it in a bank. For cultural reasons, and because of Turkey’s experience with high inflation under volatile economic conditions for decades, gold has become a big business in Turkey.
This precious metal has traditionally been given as a gift at weddings, graduation ceremonies, and circumcision rituals, and today it has become an attractive product offered by banks, which are heavily promoting it in their investment portfolios.
Below are some facts about the Turkish jewelry industry based on supply and demand data:
The annual processing capacity of Turkey is 400 tons of gold and 300 tons of silver.
Turkish jewelry sector employs 300,000 people. Considering that each employee provides for a family approximately of four people, 1.2 million people’s living depends on the jewelry industry. With these facts in hand, no one can deny the jewelry industry is just as important as the agriculture or textile industry in Turkey’s economy.
Turkey’s average jewelry production is 200 tons per year, and approximately 50 tons of the total production is exported annually.
Turkey’s gold mine production was 4.3 tons in 2002, and it drastically increased to 24.6 tons in 2011.