August 9, 2022

VOX POP tête-à-tête

The Secret Window, Karakum – is no longer a secret

By Engin Dervişağa

The Secret Window in Karakum is no longer a secret as I visited there recently to talk to the owner Aras Karabal and see some of the wonderful jewellery, trinkets and ornaments he has on display.  This was a double treat as I was also able to interview Sevan Sarraf, a well-known jeweller from Turkey, who was spending The Secret Windowtwo days at The Secret Window showing his skills at jewellery making.

Sevan is Armenian and he first learned his art when he was about 12 years old from his father, who had a business in Turkey from 1955, and later he went on to gain experience from other Masters.  Sevan worked in the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul for about 10 years.   I asked him about the type of jewellery he makes and he said that most of his work is specially made to order and the designs are unique to the individual’s request and can vary from daytime to night-time jewellery.   Sevan said that at the moment the most popular stones are pearls and agate.

I asked Sevan if he had been to North Cyprus before and he said he had been for a holiday.  Coming from a busy city he likes the peace and quiet here which he finds very relaxing.

Having been in the business of jewellery making for some 35 years, Sevan is very skilled and as well as teaching in Istanbul he would like to pass this art on to his children.

Sevan is a very private person and did not like talking about himself but Aras told me that Sevan visited Thailand in 1993 and Vox Pop visits the Secret Windownow he spends normally 3 months of the year in Thailand and Bali where he finds a lot of his inspiration for the jewellery designs he produces.

I then spoke with Aras who is also Armenian and was born in Turkey.  He told me that he lived in Toronto in Canada for many years and there he worked with setters and goldsmiths.   He came to North Cyprus last December and loves the Girne area where he lives.   Aras opened his shop The Secret Window 6 months ago and he persuaded his friend, Sevan, to come and demonstrate his unique designs in jewellery making.

Looking around the shop, as well as items of jewellery, there are many different items on display,  Aras said that he brings hand-made porcelain items from all over the world.  There was silver jewellery on display with semi-precious stones and cuff-links which have lately become very popular with ladies in North America.

A fascinating display on one wall was Punch and Judy which Aras told me is made from camel skin and is very rare now as there is only one Master in Turkey who produces these items.  Aras said that this version of Punch and Judy is very different to the conventional European one as it is shown as a shadow production and the voices of the characters are all done by one person.

Aras said that he wants to bring different types of arts to North Cyprus and on 6th December he will be holding a Christmas Party with live jazz music and he will be bringing a special guest from A warm welcome at the Secret WindowIsrael who is a diamond cutter.   Aras hopes to be able to hold events such as this perhaps 5 times a year.   During the month of October Aras said he promoted Breast Cancer Awareness Month and he donated a portion of his sales to NCCCT.

Following the interviews, Sevan gave a demonstration of jewellery making and while he was doing this he told me about some of the stones which are used and about the cutting which gives facets so that the stones display different colours.  He said most of the good stones come from South Africa and also from South America.   I was shown a necklace with mounted stones of different colours and Sevan said this type of jewellery is popular because it can blend in with many dress colours.

On winding up the interview I asked Aras if Sevan would be returning to The Secret Window and he said that he hopes that in 6-7 months Sevan will come back to give some more demonstrations and show his jewellery making skills.

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