In many cultures, jewelry and adornments play a large part in determining an individual’s social status. Indian jewelry has a rich history, as well as an underlying decadence that has influenced many different styles of jewelry – even modern and contemporary ones.
There are different styles of Indian jewelry that are suited to different regions of the country, and there are numerous levels of intricacy and value of Indian jewelry, the level of which is determined by how much an individual can pay.
Gold is a very important asset in Indian culture, making it one of the most popular materials of which jewelry is handcrafted.
Many pieces of intricate Indian jewelry have some elements of the filigree style.
Filigree is an aesthetic styling that is achieved by carefully twisting the delicate metal into a detailed pattern or design.
Filigree is a beloved style of jewelry making not only because of the detailed craftsmanship that goes into making the piece, but also due to the fragile and delicate appearance.
When looking for filigree pieces of Indian jewelry, a buyer would most likely search for handcrafted items from the Andhra or the Orissa Pradesh.
Kundan jewelry, or Indian jewelry that came from the Mughal Empire, is made of gold and silver with naturally occurring precious stones.
Rubies, emeralds, diamonds, and sapphires are popular stones used in the making of breathtaking Kundan pieces.
Kundan jewelry is extremely elaborate with layers upon layers of stone and precious metals, and intricate joint work.
The undersides of the pieces are enameled in a style known as Meenakari. Often sold in matching sets including earrings, bracelets, and necklaces, this style is ideal for a jewelry lover who adores decadence and indulgence.
Kundan jewelry is also crafted into hairpieces and rings.
The Meenakari Technique
Meenakari is a technique used in many different styles of Indian jewelry.
Mentioned above as the decorative process for the undersides of Kundan jewelry, Meenakari is also used in jewelry making techniques of Rajasthan and other regions of northern India.
Artisans gifted with the talents of Meenakari fuse colorful materials into the metal used in the Indian jewelry crafting process.
It creates what looks to be the addition of precious stones but is actually just an intricate trick of the eye caused by a man-made design.
Most Meenakari pieces have the detailed enamel-work on the underside of the body. This was because people who wore it felt great pleasure in knowing the most intricate part of their piece of jewelry was pressed against their skin, unknown to anyone but them.
Indian Empires and Jewelry Styles
The styles of Indian jewelry do not only differ by region; they are also known to change along with the ruling empires.
Each great Indian empire has been the muse for a different type of Indian jewelry, whether the pieces were more intricately carved or designed, more colorful, or made out of more or less luxurious materials.
The Mughal Empire was very keen on gemstones, whereas the Rajput Empire preferred delicate carvings.
Contemporary jewelry has taken many of these aspects and given them modern, sophisticated aesthetic styling that is fitting for the urban jewelry lover.
Many designers of Indian jewelry or American designers who use Indian jewelry as inspiration will keep the classic designs.
Indian Jewelry Design
Classic design is still considered fashionable, and many people would be likely to choose the traditional, handcrafted style over a more gaudy, over decorated imitation.
Indian Jewelry styles are most notably large, elaborate necklaces, bangles, bracelets, chandelier style earrings, waist-band jewelry, fancy headpieces, and other complex varieties.
Indian jewelry is definitely the most well-known and widely appreciated form of exotic jewelry and design, proving to be timeless as each fashion season comes and goes, adding a glamorous and foreign constant on and off the runway.