November 24 2010
Istanbul-based designer Verda Alaton’s highly original, bespoke jewellery looks very organic yet is ultra-chic – no mean feat. Its natural aesthetic stems partly from the fact that Alaton, who worked in an African tribal art gallery in New York before setting up her company Tohum in 2008, is mainly inspired by African adornment, such as the ivory and bone bangles and rings worn by the Dinka tribe of Sudan. “The materials used in adornment in Africa are taken from nature and their forms are really striking,” she says.
While organic-looking, her jewellery (very reasonably priced from £180 to £250 each if made from semiprecious stones or from £400 to £500 if made from rarer materials, such as antique shells) is elegant, unfussy and very polished. (Second picture shows rock crystal bangle.)
Each piece is painstakingly tailored to suit the wearer’s personality. Most clients go to her with an idea of what they want, having visited her clearly designed website where the subtle hues of the stones she uses – from topaz to prehnite (a semitransparent lime-coloured stone from Namibia) – stand out crisply against a midnight-blue background.
“I’m mainly commissioned for gifts for birthdays, anniversaries or special occasions,” she says. “I ask clients to tell me everything about the taste, character and physical attributes – hair, skin, eye colour – of the person they’re buying the piece for.” Whenever possible, of course, Alaton meets clients in person and can easily do so in London as she goes there often.
Her jewellery is at times not just exotic but otherworldly: “I once designed cuff links made from fragments from a meteorite dating from 1947 for a man with a passion for outer space. He was thrilled and said it was the best gift he’d ever received.”