Mirza Mehmet Mh., 25200 Yakutiye/Erzurum, Turkey
Oltutaşı in the TaşhanThe hot item in Erzurum is Oltutaşı, or black amber, a type of jet. It’s also called ‘Erzurum stone’ and is mined around several villages in the province, including Oltu. A friend and I were in search of a set of tespih, or prayer beads, made of this material, so we visited the Rüstem Pasha Kervansaray in Erzurum, now known as the Taşhan, an entire market dedicated to jewelry, the majority of it made of Oltutaşı—or at least material that resembles Oltutaşı. This hall used to serve as a meeting point along the Silk Road. Now, booth after booth displays rings, brooches, necklaces and prayer beads. After browsing a while, we were successful in our search, and even had the set engraved.If you find yourself in Erzurum, stop in the Taşhan and you might come away with a find you didn't know you were after.