Pachchikam Jewelry



Pachchikam jewelry is back in fashion. Crafted in Gujarat and Kutch centuries ago, this style of jewelry is being revived by the contemporary jewelry designers. Exclusive and artistic, this designer jewelry is replacing the traditional gold ornaments.

In the world of fashion and design there is an all round revival of styles of the lost eras in garments as well as jewelry. One of the most popular revivals in the world of ornaments is Pachchikam jewelery, which dates back to the 18th and 19th centuries in India.

Little is known of the history of Pachchikam and yet it's beginning can be traced to early European designs worn by the nobility in the 16th century. Although it has a strong ethnic background, on closer observation one notices an affinity to the type of jewelry seen in portraits of British dignitaries in India. It was with the exchange of trade and commerce that the intricacy of the art reached the shores of India, where Indian artisans added their style to change it into a work of Indian art.

There are several definitions for the word Pachchikam or Panchchkkam, as it is sometimes known. It could be a derivation of pachchigar (which means goldsmith) or it could also mean five fingers (panch) since most of the jewellery is handcrafted.

Distinct From Other Indian Jewelry

The Pachchikam setting is easily identifiable from other Indian jewelry like Kundan jewelry of Jaipur and Tadtar, though at times it is mistaken for it, from a distance. But on close scrutiny, one can notice that at times the setting is crude because the work is done by hand. In spite of that, Pachchikam jewelry is fragile compared to Kundan or Tadtar.

Gold was replaced by silver later since the former made the jewellery unaffordable to many. Research has also shown that this jewellery was worn by children. Another reason for opting for silver as the base metal is that it is highly malleable and it closely resembles platinum, the metal used in Europe. Pachchikam jewelry is very flashy and can be worn on formal occasions.

The setting of Pachchikam jewelery encases uncut semi-precious stones and glasswork in simulated open claw workmanship. Fabrication of this jewelry takes place in Kutch and Gujarat by families who specialize in this art and has been handed down from generations.

Making The Jewelry

The actual process starts with the stone being inserted in a silver case, the edge of which is pressed onto the stone with the finger and grooves then filed on it. A closer look shows a setting, which is crude in its execution, but it is in this quality that its aesthetical charm lies; making connoisseurs of beauty appreciate it. There is also a slight departure from European styling, which Indian artisans have replaced with their own indigenous touches. It is a gentle blend of the western genre as well as Indian ethnic charm. The workmanship involves a very laborious process, which is time consuming.

The jewelry is not very expensive. The advantage of Pachchikam jewelry is that it cannot be mass-produced. The piece is more or less an exclusive. The artisans are very conservative in their design sense and prefer to stick to certain set designs instead of experimenting with new styles.

The revival of Pachchikam jewelry has also brought in an interest from the West for export.

Handicrafts Trade
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