Priceless Indian Jewels

 

 

Use of Natural Materials in Ornaments

Country-seeds, feathers, leaves, berries, fruits, flowers, animal bones, claws and teeth have been used in early India to fashion ornaments. Even today such ornaments are popular in tribal societies. Archaeological explorations at Mohenjodaro and other sites of the Indus Valley civilization have unearthed a wealth of ornaments. It is confirmed that both men and women of that time wore ornaments made of gold, silver, copper, ivory and precious and semi-precious stones. Even sacred Brahmanical epics like Ramayana and the Mahabharata have descriptions of jewelry. By the third century B.C., India was the leading exporter of gemstones, particularly diamonds. Gold was usually imported into the country, a practice prevalent even during the Mughal period.

Variety of Jewelry

India has a huge variety of jewelry based on religious to purely aesthetic reasons. It is interesting to note that ornaments were crafted for humans but also for the gods, ceremonial elephants and horses. Temple complexes supported many different styles of Ornaments-scented sandalwood bead necklaces, the prayer bead or the rudraksh (berry of the elaocarpus canitrus) necklace, multicoloured silk and gold thread necklaces.

 

Ornaments satisfy man's innate desire to beautify himself. Also, they serve as a symbol of security. Jewelry has a deep religious significance for Hindus in ceremonies like samaskaras (stages of life) such as the namkarna (naming ceremony) or the vivaha (marriage). The married Indian woman wears mangalsutra, which symbolizes her marital status.

Banjaras wear a wide variety of jewelry like earrings in various sizes, bangles of bone, shell and ivory extending from the wrist to the armpit along with silver bracelets, chokers, pendants and necklaces, nose rings, and heavy anklets.

Many of the jewel items have abundant use of precious and semi precious stones to give the wearer protection against negative energies and enhance his innate strength.

Jewelry Styles

Different parts of India have distinct jewelry styles, which lend that unique individuality to the jewelry accessories.

Fine filigree work in silver of Orissa and Andhra Pradesh, Meenakari of Mughals, kundan or the setting of semi-precious or precious stones in gold from Delhi and enameling of Jaipur are world famous. The other notable designs are temple jewelry of Nagercoil, silver jewelry designs of Himachal Pradesh, and use of gold for the craft imitation of human head and long funnel shaped beads

Jewelry as Asset

Jewelry symbolizes security and investment. In India women usually receive streedhana (gifts given to a woman at the time of her marriage), which she can use during hard times.

Goldsmiths of India

Swarnakara, Panchallar, or Thattan are the popular terms for goldsmiths of India. Indian goldsmiths were versed with various skills like mixing alloys, moulding, drawing fine wires, setting stones, inlay work, relief, drawing gold and silver into thin wires, plating and gilding to produce beautiful ornaments.