This Istanbul It Girl Went from Baking to Creating Fashion Jewelry

Pliers used in the production of handmade jewelry
Pliers used in the production of handmade jewelry | © Mauro Cateb / WikiCommons
Feride Yalav-Heckeroth

Esra Dandin is most known for her delicious baked creations at her café Dandin Bakery in Istanbul’s trendy Karaköy neighborhood. But the Turkish It Girl decided to follow her true calling, creating a jewelry brand that is utterly unique.

The bakery

The Karaköy neighborhood, once Istanbul’s most flourishing center of commerce, was a dilapidated version of itself, full of potential which was seized by the city’s younger generation. Soon cafes opened aplenty, the old facades gained new purpose as the sound of DJ parties reverberated through the dark streets, and on the weekends the once empty quarter was full of life with tables set up outside, art galleries announcing their exhibitions, and colorful light bulbs hanging overhead as crowds wandered from one boutique to the other.

The original Dandin bakery before it was handed over to new management

In one of these streets, a café almost entirely decked out in sea foam green hues stuck out. Inside, a glass display exhibited an array of expertly created cakes and pastries, while one wall had a small library of independent magazines that the city often missed. This was the café of Esra Dandin, a native of Istanbul in her late twenties, who soon grew weary of her pastry chef existence, looking for something that would truly satiate her potential.

The jewelry

And so Dandin and her metal and woodworker husband went after what they truly loved: design. Dandin kept thinking about a jewelry making course that she had once attended in college, and when she sold the café to a new manager in the summer she concentrated entirely on this dormant passion. She was quite in luck, because the sudden change from baking to creating jewelry was not so different, after all she was still molding and forming shapes just as she had for her unique pastries.

The Esra Dandin jewelry collection is of a minimal persuasion and seems to be inspired by both natural forms and the kind bold curvaceous forms that you’d find in abstract art. Silver is always in the foreground and Dandin’s simple and elegant namesake collection might as well as be described as small sculptures that can be worn and therefore stand out inevitably. After Dandin sketches and molds her creations, they are all handmade by an Armenian silversmith and her inspiration for the simplicity of her jewelry is a kind of opposing force to the high energy and chaos of the city she calls home.

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