Tired of me lunging for her collarbone, my Turkish hostess rang up the designer of the simple, elegant string of rose gold and white diamonds hanging around her neck. An hour later a sleek sedan appeared and off I went into Istanbul’s vehicular melée. The car stopped on a steep residential hillside above Bebek and I followed the driver down some leaf-covered steps into a half-moon courtyard with spectacular views of the Bosphorus. Kismet designer Milka Karaağaçli bounced out to greet me, her blonde ringlets blown back by the wind revealing brown diamond and ruby serpent earrings (third picture, £630).
Just as I was lusting after her Kismet signature necklace, a 14-carat gold outline of angel wings (second picture, £100), the Istanbul-born jeweller told me that people want to buy the very items she is wearing, right there and then, “all the time”. It has been the case ever since the early days of this, her second career, after a dozen years in advertising.
The muezzin’s call to prayer rang out across the sky as we walked into the Kismet showroom where my eyes danced between the pieces, each an unusual blend of eastern exoticism and western wearable simplicity. While I slid an angel-wing bangle (£340) onto my right wrist, and stacked gold skull, star and dove rings on my fingers, Karaağaçli disappeared into the back. The high-octane designer soon returned with a one-of-a-kind diamond seahorse ring (first picture, £4,300), explaining that it takes her five-man workshop in the Grand Bazaar three weeks to craft this ruby and diamond encrusted wonder. I was completely seduced by its curvaceous shape as she slipped the marine creature onto my middle finger.
Kismet in Turkish means fate, fortune or luck, and they have certainly been in Karaağaçli’s favour since producing the first diamond-embellished evil-eye charm necklaces four years ago on a whim for a friend’s private jewellery party in London. She dreamt of seeing Kismet in the cases at Istanbul’s branch of Harvey Nichols and within six months the Kismet evil eye had caught the attention of the store’s buyer.
My heart actually raced as I tried to decide on just one piece, until I remembered an age-old yearning to own a Fatima’s Hand ring. The ones I’d seen previously, in places like Morocco, had been too flashy for my gypsy existence, but Kismet’s simple and sweet 14-carat gold Fatima’s Hand ring now graces my right ring finger (£165).