The Rising Trade Mark in the World Market: Turkish Jewelry

By Kursad Tuzmen*

Anatolia is one of the oldest lands where jewelry has been produced and used. Jewelry has played an important role in this land, be it for religious, artistic or financial purposes.  Currently, the Turkish jewelry sector has a history of 5000 years.
Gold was first refined in Anatolia and the first coin was minted in Anatolia. Starting from the early Bronze Age, Hittites, Assyrians, Urartus, Phrygians, Lydians, Byzantines, Seljuks and Ottomans have taken the tradition of jewelry-making to its apex. 
Kursad Tuzmen.

Now Turkish jewelers have managed to combine this heritage with high quality labor, modern production technology, competitive prices and an original concept of design in the world market. Actually when one talks about jewelry, this mainly means gold. The demand for gold in Turkey comes mostly from the needs of the jewelry-making sector. The major part of the sector’s production is consumed in the domestic market and the remainder is exported. Today, Turkey ranks second in the world in its demand for gold.

The Turkish gold jewelry sector has become a giant, importing some 150 tons of gold annually and exporting 200 tons of products. The industry is a huge one among Turkish manufacturing industries and is a major employer. The Turkish jewelry sector has the capacity to process 400 tons of gold and 200 tons of silver annually. However, the sector does not yet operate at full capacity. Despite this fact, Turkey ranks among the top five countries in the world in gold jewelry production. At the moment world jewelry authorities point to Turkey as rivaling Italy in this field. The production and export figures that are published in international professional magazines support this assessment.

The establishment of the Istanbul Gold Exchange (IGE) in 1995 was an important step in directing the gold kept for private investment into the financial system. IGE developed gold based investment vehicles and the international integration of the gold sector in Turkey.  The Istanbul Gold Refinery (IAR) was founded in 1996 and started operations by 2001. In the refinery, scrap gold and used gold jewelry is processed into bars to be reused.

The sector in Turkey has many advantages; first, there’s a legacy of 5000 years of jewelry-making in Anatolia that enriches the both the concepts and the production design of Turkish jewelry. Second, the jewelry sector is comprised of quick-paced firms that perceive the trends abroad shrewdly and act on them with a high level of awareness - even in the firms that employ 1000 people, management mechanisms can act like that. The gold center of Anatolia is the Grand Bazaar in İstanbul. The production of gold jewelry is also intensive in Ankara and İzmir. There is also production of gold jewelry in Eastern and Southeastern Anatolia.

Turkish silver jewelry is also very important, and Turks have accumulated a vast knowledge of silver-working methods through the ages. This area has its unique production techniques coupled with a variety of products. Some prominent centers for silver jewelry production in Turkey are İstanbul, Beypazarı (Ankara), Midyat (Mardin), Gaziantep, Şanlıurfa, Kahramanmaraş, Alpu (Eskişehir), İzmir and Trabzon.

Recently, the Turkish jewelry sector turned its attention to exportation, particularly after the1980’s.  In the first stage of its orientations towards exporting - that is, up until 1986 - the sector mainly exported its products to the Middle East and gained knowledge, experience and, most importantly, self-confidence. The real breakthrough in jewelry sector exports began with the beginning of exports to the USA. The period after the beginning of the new millennium became years in which the export potential of the sector was finally realized. In the last 4-5 years the export value of the sector has increased dramatically and the Turkish jewelry sector reached a significant place in the global markets. Now Turkish jewelry products are sold in 130 countries worldwide, from the USA to Japan and from Russia to Saudi Arabia.

The USA is the biggest market for Turkish jewelry exports.  Exports to American makes up one third of all jewelry exported. The United Arab Emirates, the Russian Federation, Lithuania, and Italy are other prominent markets for the Turkish jewelry sector.

In 2004, the total value of jewelry exports was $929,1700,000, which showed an 17.9% increase in comparison to 2003. In the first 8 months of 2005, exports have increased by 14.6% when compared to the same period of  2004. When we look at the monthly statistics, we see that the sector is very close to the $1.1 billion target, with a total export of $1,016,727,000, which shows a 13.6% increase when compared to the same period for the previous year. The top 5 markets for the exports are the USA, the UAE, Libya, the Russian Federation and Lithuania respectively in the first 8 months of 2005. The sector aims at world leadership within the next 5 years by selling five billions USD worth of jewelry.

Some comparative advantages of the Turkish jewelry sector are:

- Unique heritage:  The origins of Turkish jewelry making can be traced back to 3000 BC.
- Immense variety: The Turkish jewelry sector provides infinite choices and varieties. Leading Turkish jewelry manufacturers manage to create 10 variations of 10 different models on average daily. There are even producers that surpass this average.
- Flexible production: Dynamic decision-making and the ability to cope with changes in the markets and  adapt to new trends.
- Excellent finishing: In terms of quality, Turkish producers use meticulous quality control systems to rule out errors and they have made the world standard their guide in all stages of production.
- Competitive prices: From its producers to its designers and workers, the Turkish jewelry sector has the awareness and will to offer customers competitive prices.
- Shortest delivery time: With its top quality design, creation, and modeling structure, the sector can meet customer demands in a quick and expeditious manner.

Perfect finishing capability and unparalleled concept of quality of Turkish jewelry has given the sector a distinguished place in the world market. All international buyers know and trust Turkey. The industry is entering a new era. The vision of this new era is “branding”. Turkish jewelry manufacturers are starting a new battle of to create global brands and franchises to reach the consumers directly.

FROM TURKEY (In thousands of dollars)
Years                                                2001            2002        2003            2004        2005
Jewelry                                             200,906    199,917    248,872    369,871    405,915
Gem Diamonds-uncut or unset   177                288        514              835           1,682

FROM ITALY (In thousands of dollars)
Years                                               2001              2002            2003             2004             2005
Jewelry                                            1,419,113    1,550,311    1,242,712    1,034,263    970,165
Gem diamonds-uncut or unset    4,031          3,718            3,061            5,591            3,834

FROM INDIA (In thousands of dollars)
Years                                              2001               2002            2003              2004            2005
Jewelry                                           578,524         877,756      1,193,098      1,494,271  1,764,845
Gem diamonds-uncut or unset 1,922,042     2,639,934    2,620,060     2,873,870   3,079,769

* Minister of State and MP responsible for Trade Issues
Last modified onSaturday, 06 May 2017 10:07