By Michelle Graff

Michelle-blogI’ve seen so much good jewelry over the years that, at times, I feel as if I am at a loss for words when it comes to describing it. This is a problem because I write for a living so words pay the bills, so to speak, and choosing the rights ones is of utmost importance.

It’s amazing, gorgeous, beautiful, stunning, exquisite, one-of-a-kind … How much can you really say?

As it turns out, the answer is quite a bit if the designer turns out a really compelling collection and is savvy enough to shoot a video to go along with it.

About a month ago, I got an email from Alp Sagnak, the designer behind New York-based brand Atelier Minyon.

The first time I met Alp was at a JA New York show a few years back. He showed me some very cool rings modeled after poisonous flowers because, well, that’s what Alp does. He tells the whole story with his jewelry, the good and the bad.

I thought he was crazy when we first met but I don’t particularly dislike crazy, and we’ve been in touch ever since.

[caption id="attachment_3488" align="aligncenter" width="360"]Rigoletto From the King’s Fool, this is the “Rigoletto” ring, named after the jester from the Verdi opera of the same name. It is 18-karat yellow gold and silver with rubies and diamonds ($17,500).[/caption]

With his new collection, the designer branched out from the dichotomous themes that defined his early work, such as devil-angel and naïve-wild, to create “King’s Fool,” and a great video to go with it. It’s something every jewelry designer should consider. Alp made the video for the same reason he takes a story-telling approach to his Instagram account (also something for designers to consider): to tell people why he does his job, how he does his job and, most importantly, who he is.

The idea behind the Fool, Alp tells me on the phone Thursday afternoon, is to express the idea that the king, or queen, and the fool live inside each of us.

Sometimes, we convince ourselves we are at the top of our game while other times we are certain we are at the bottom. One balances out the other. As Alp so wisely points out in the video, in days gone by, the court jester or jestress (a/k/a the fool) was the only one who could tell the king or queen the truth in some instances.

[caption id="attachment_3489" align="alignright" width="324"]The-Gardner Le Jardiniere, the much-trusted jestress to the embattled Mary Queen of Scots, inspired this ring in the King’s Fool collection. It is 18-karat yellow gold with white and black diamonds, rubies and sapphires ($17,500.)[/caption]

I had to question Alp, though, about one line from the video because it runs counter to a long-held belief of mine that people, at their core, never change.

The line is this: “I was different person yesterday. I will be a different one tomorrow. I am now this as I am speaking with you. I am this.”

But his reasoning ultimately shifted my belief about changeability.

He explained it to me using a story to which many jewelry store owners can relate: He wakes up at 6 a.m., hoping for six-digit sales that day. He goes into his jewelry store, pulls out his jewelry and stocks the showcases. He makes sure they are spotless and cleans the windows too. He sits down at his bench and waits. Then, at 6 p.m., his only customer of the day comes in and spends $123.37, including tax.

When he goes to bed at night, he’s a different person with a different outlook on what life has to offer; every person begins the day with certain dreams or intentions but “life comes back in a different way.”

And so it goes on each day.

“Life designs us,” Alp said, “as we design our lives.”

Alp Sagnak sells his line at his store in New York City’s SoHo neighborhood, his shops in Turkey and via independent retailers in the United States and overseas. Check out more of his work at

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