Transition from Tradesmanship to Industry

Ahmet Karbeyaz*

The goldsmith sector is a fast-improving one in Turkey, a country which is home to arts, crafts and industry simultaneously. Goldsmithery, which also is one of the powerhouse sectors of Turkey in terms of production, investment and employment, has begun to break free of its tradesman structure and has started to become an industry.
In recent years, this sector has taken a giant step, and small firms which once employed 2 to 5 people to work a few kilos of gold have become giant companies which employ hundreds of workers that work tons of gold. Through increasing capacity , exports have leaped from 10 million to 1 billion dollars and imports from 65 to 250 tons.
Ahmet Karbeyaz, President of Istanbul Chamber of Goldsmiths

There are over 40 thousand manufacturers, wholesalers, exporters, bulk traders and retailers in Turkey. Some of them work with a labor force of over one thousand people, and some work alone. If we take five people employed in each work place as an average, we can easily figure out that a total of 200 thousand people worked in this sector in 2004. If we also consider that an average family is composed of 6 people we come to the conclusion that almost 1,200,000 people made their living from this sector. This equals 4% of the population  of Turkey, which makes goldsmithery one of the most important sectors in the country, along with textile and agriculture. This sector takes a lot of effort, too. As it mostly depends on its labor force, 75% of the costs of the industry are related to that.

In 2004, production of gold in Turkey equaled 315 tons of pure gold, which amounted to a value of 4.5 billion dollars, taking into account labor, various costs and profits. This is equivalent to 2.3% of Turkey’s GNP. From that amount, if we take away the 4 billion dollars paid to foreign countries for raw material, we come up with a production and added value of 500 million dollars profit. This added value is divided among 40 thousand goldsmiths.

In 1980, when the government presided over by Turgut Ozal adopted a liberal policy in terms of Turkey’s economy, the seeds of transformation were cast in the goldsmith sector. Especially when the system achieved a fully liberal structure with the establishment of the Istanbul Gold Market  in 1995, a new dawn arose for the gold jewelry market. With the legal arrangement established on July 7, 1984, the export and import of treated gold was made much easier.

The authorization to import gold was given to the Central Bank. In 1995, when private companies were given import authorization with the establishment of the Istanbul Gold Market, this suddenly increased the capacity of the sector. A lot of firms changed direction and concentrated on exports, and sectoral change began. The Turkish goldsmith sector, with fine prospects before it, was transformed from small workshops into big factories within 10 to 15 years.
Istanbul Chamber of Goldsmiths

The U.S.A is still the most important market for the Turkish goldsmith sector. And there are ongoing efforts to increase the business relationships between the two countries.

The Istanbul Chamber of Goldsmiths is an occupational organization which has made the development of this sector a mission for itself since 1971.

The Chamber’s most important duties are to facilitate the works of its member tradesmen and craftsmen, to open new doors before them, and to increase their capacities. Among its other duties, the Istanbul Chamber of Goldsmiths gathers together 45 Turkish companies by organizing the Gold and Expo Fair three times a year, which is held simultaneously with the Vicenza Oro fair in the city of Vicenza of Italy, most recently in June 2004.

This fair, which constantly improves with its meticulously crafted identity and the masses it reaches, is an assertive organization that is about to become one of the most important bridges to the world market.

The landmark of sectoral development is, without a doubt, education for goldsmithery, which must be based on human labor, regardless of any improvement in technology. In this regard, the Istanbul Chamber of Goldsmiths provides material and instructors for schools which educate which turn out knowledgeable staff and workers for the sector.

1992    12.7
1993    23.6
1994    44.2
1995    55.4
1996    109.2
1997    160.7
1998    207.2
1999    258.2
2000    384.3
2001    430.7
2002    522.3
2003    696.6
2004    842.6



(1) Resource: Istanbul Chamber of Goldsmiths
*President of Istanbul Chamber of Goldsmiths

Jewelry Special Issue, October 2006
Last modified onSaturday, 06 May 2017 10:07