The history of jewellery in India goes back to more than 5000 years ago, touching the eras when the great epics of Mahabharata and Ramayana took place. The physical traces of some ancient Indian jewellery are found from the Indus Valley civilization. The initial jewellery was simple, made from beads, strings, and stones. Later on, people of the Indus Valley region learnt to make ornaments and jewellery from metals.
- The arrival of the Mughals in the 16th century brought about innovations in jewellery use and design. They brought in the art and knowledge of jewellery engineering in the use of gems and metals. Also, the possession of precious metals and gems was restricted as it began to be used as a symbol of social status. Mughal jewellery was one of the most dominant parts of their tradition. Royal members of the family including both men and women used to display their wealth and status by wearing heavy jewellery such as jewelled turban, toe-rings and necklaces etc. Mughal rule started during 16th century and throughout their ruling period art of jewellery was given a due importance. Jewellery designs during that period were influenced by various cultures and religions. Like it was the strategy of Mughal ruler, especially Akbar to marry Rajput women so there was an amalgamation of Mughal as well as Rajput (Hindu) jewellery style. Hindu jewellery was predominated by figures of gods and ancient scriptures. But any kind of figure was prohibited in Islam so floral images gained prominence. Even the European Fashion of 17th century especially jewellery in Renaissance era to some extent had influenced the Mughal jewellery. Overall use of precious stones and intricate carvings are the two significant aspects of Mughal jewellery.
FEATURES OF MUGAL JEWELLERY:
- During the rule of Akbar, Mughal Jewellery showed the combination of Iranian and Hindu art as the emperor had his cultural roots in Iran. Indian gold work and floral designs of Middle Eastern regions can be seen on Mughal jewellery.
- Under Jahangir’s rule there was seen a transformation in the style of jewellery. The upright feather plume worn at the front of turban by Akbar was now replaced with a large dropping pearl.
- In Mughal jewellery design combination of crescent and stem was very prominent. Earrings were made in crescent shape covering almost the entire ear with a small stem at the top of it. Lower side of the crescent used to have a suspended fish to which bunch of pearls were attached.
- Heavy stonework and Kundan jewellery flourished during Mughal period. Precious gemstones were carefully cut and given a shape to get fit into pure gold.
- Meenakari – floral finishes were the most prominent designs that were made with the process of enameling.
India had always held a high status in the imperial world for being a leading exporter of gems. India was the first to mine diamonds. The first mines were at the Godavari Riverbanks near Hyderabad. The use of diamonds too had much diversity. Sometimes it had been used as royal gifts for appeasement, regaining trust and also for gaining immortality. Diamond dust had been used for poisoning people to death under conspiracies.
The diamond is more than just aesthetically beautiful—it’s an enduring symbol of love, romance, and commitment. The stone’s name is derived from the Greek word adamas, which translates to “unconquerable.” The earliest diamonds were found in India in 4th century BC, although the youngest of these deposits were formed 900 million years ago. A majority of these early stones were transported along the network of trade routes that connected India and China, commonly known as the Silk Road. At the time of their discovery, diamonds were valued because of their strength and brilliance, and for their ability to refract light and engrave metal. Diamonds were worn as adornments, used as cutting tools, served as a talisman to ward off evil, and were believed to provide protection in battle. In the Dark Ages, diamonds were also used as a medical aid and were thought to cure illness and heal wounds when ingested. Surprisingly, diamonds share some common characteristics with coal. Both are composed of the most common substance on earth: carbon. What makes diamonds different from coal is the way the carbon atoms are arranged and how the carbon is formed. Diamonds are created when carbon is subjected to the extremely high pressures and temperatures found at the earth’s lithosphere, which lies approximately 90-240 miles below the earth’s surface. Until the 18th century, India was thought to be the only source of diamonds. When the Indian diamond mines were depleted, the quest for alternate sources began. Although a small deposit was found in Brazil in 1725, the supply was not enough to meet world demands.
TYPES OF INDIAN JEWELLERY
ANTIQUE JEWELLERY it is the jewellery which is not in mainstream production and of which the mode of production is no longer popular is known by the name of ‘Antique Jewellery.’ This kind of jewellery has dull and rough look, combined with an old world-world charm, and this serves as the major USP of such jewellery.
BEAD JEWELLERY Bead art in India is five thousand year old and dates back to the time of Indus Valley Civilization. People of that civilization used to make beads out of gold, silver, copper, clay, ivory and even wood. The excavated carried out there came out with finished and unfinished beads from the site.
BRIDAL JEWELLERY India has great tradition of wedding jewellery. Made of superior metals and excellent quality, jewellery accentuates the beauty of bride in multiples. Though these days silver and platinum jewellery is gaining popularity, gold jewellery still holds the most popularity among Indian
CUSTOM JEWELLWRY Custom jewellery is personalized jewellery, which a customer gets her made on her interest and fancy. This happens particularly in cases where readymade jewellery does not match the taste of person. Custom jewellery gives total freedom to customer about the specifics.
FASHION JEWELLERY fashion jewellery is also called costume jewellery, mainly for the reason that it is not made of precious metals and stones, rather lighter and cheaper material are used. Fashion jewellery is trend-conscious and keeps on changing as per changing needs.
FILIGREE JEWELLERY filigree work is done on silver and involves lots of precision and technicality, added with great amount of patience and an eye for minute details. Historically, filigree work was quite popular in countries like Egypt, Italy, and Spain. India’s history of filigree work goes back to early centuries.
GOLD JEWELLERY gold is a metal that lures many. It gives the security against any financial crisis, because of its easy liquidity, and is also used by women for adorning themselves. Traditionally, gold has been considered auspicious among Hindus and is regarded to be symbolic of Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth.
HANDMADE JEWELLERY Talking about jewellery manufacturing in India is as good as talking about handmade jewellery in India. A major chunk of jewellery in the country is made by independent craftsmen. Traditionally also, a significant part of jewellery manufacturing has been handmade jewellery
IVORY JEWELLERY jewellery that is made from the tusk of an elephant is called ivory jewellery. Importance of ivory jewellery can be guessed from the fact that in Gujarat, the bride receives an ivory bangle from her family just before marriage as jewellery. During marriage ceremony wearing of ivory bangles is must for bride.
JADAU JEWELLERY Jadau jewellery forms one of the major examples of high skilled craftsmanship that was brought into India by Mughals. Historically speaking, the tradition of Jadau work has been in practice in the states of Rajasthan and Gujarat since the Mughal era. Jadau jewellery is also called engraved jewellery.
KUNDAN JEWELLERY During Mughal period, the art of kundan work reached Rajasthan from Delhi. Later on, craftsmen from the different part of the country migrated to the place and made Rajasthan a hub of Kundankari. Rulers and feudal lords gave patronage to the art and it developed into perfection.
LAC JEWELLERY lac jewellery, also known as lacquer jewellery, originated in Rajasthan and has gained considerable popularity in India today. Lac jewellery is available in versatile designs, which add to its beauty. Among the various items in lac jewellery, the bangles need a special mention.
MEENAKARI JEWELLERY In Meenakari jewellery, precious stones are set and then enameled with gold. Historically speaking, the art was introduced to Rajasthan artisans by Raja Mansingh of Amer. He invited Lahore-based skilled artisans to his kingdom, and their intermingling with the locals craftsmen resulted in an amalgam.
NAVRATNA JEWELLERY In Navratna jewellery, nine auspicious stones are used in a single ornament. The belief behind this is that the nine stones together ensure well being of the person who wears it. In India, Navratna has been given major importance, because of its astrological significance as well as its innate charm.
PACHCHIKAM JEWELLERY In the world of fashion and design, old trends tend to come over again and again, though with slight changes. Pachchikam jewellery making craft is one of the examples of jewellery that has come back once again. Originated in Gujarat and Kutch, centuries ago, Pachchikam jewellery has again become popular.
SILVER JEWELLERY Silver jewellery, along with gold jewellery, is quite popular amongst Indian women. Ornaments made of silver, such as rings, bracelets, chains, necklaces, nose rings, earrings, toe rings, heavy kadas, and armlets, form integral part of Indian jewellery.
STONE JEWELLERY jewellery studded with different gems is quite popular among Indians. For reasons ranging from spiritual to aesthetic to health, gemstone jewellery has become the part of life of Indian women and men both. These stone jewellery are worn according to the individual’s astrological chart and ruling of planet.
TEMPLE JEWELLERY Indian jewellery art is at times divided into three kinds – temple jewellery, spiritual jewellery and bridal jewellery. Temple jewellery of India initially used to be described as the jewellery used to adorn the idols of Gods and Goddesses. The statues In India were ornamented with chunky necklaces.
TRIBAL JEWELLERY Tribal jewellery in India is quite rich. Each tribe has kept its unique style of jewellery intact even now. The original format of jewellery design has been preserved by ethnic tribal. Jewellery that is made of bone, wood, clay, shells and crude metal, by tribals, is not only attractive, but also holds a distinct rustic charm.