Traveling around the world and looking for the best gemstone beads to buy, you cannot avoid India. The gemstones found there, the high-quality cutters of those gemstones, and the Indian jewelry are amazing. The interesting thing is that nearly every region in India has its own traditional Indian jewelry style.
The Indian ladies love jewelry, and they like to wear a lot of them at the same time, like necklaces, earrings, nose rings, rings, anklets, belts, and all kinds of bracelets. All are made of gold (sometimes silver) and a lot of gems. With the colorful traditional sari and this Indian jewelry, it is obvious that the Indian ladies are one of the most beautiful in the world. The last Miss world is an Indian lady, just saying.
In this blog, I will show you the most prominent style of Indian jewelry, the Kundan jewelry. And you can read the story about the Indian bangles, other types of bracelets, and rings. Don’t miss out and read this blog.
In Bollywood, the Indian competitor of Hollywood, they make about one movie a day!. The theme is simple: war and fighting and strong men with a lovely lady. OR a man who ‘hunts’ a lady he loves and it turns out for the best. The scenery is rich and wealthy, the clothes are extravagant and so is the Kundan jewelry. The actresses and actors are stunning and they all dance.
This wealthy environment discovered the old traditional Kundan jewelry and blows this type of jewelry alive. Nowadays women in India and abroad want Kundan jewelry and an Indian bride cannot do without it. But what is so special about Kundan jewelry and how Kundan jewelry makes you look like a queen?
What is Kundan jewelry?
Kundan jewelry is traditional Indian gemstone jewelry, that starts off in the courts of Rajasthan, a state in the Northern part of India. The Moghul kings love this type of jewelry, made in silver. And it is very popular with non-royals. It is a part of every bridal Indian jewelry set.
The Kundan jewelry is made with gemstones set in a golden mount and in between gold foil (the word ‘Kundan’ means refined gold). The golden mounts are set together in a certain design, mostly for necklaces or bracelets. On the back of the mounts, the designer uses enameling with vivid colors. So the pieces of Kundan jewelry can be worn on two sides.
Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan, is the center of this type of Indian jewelry, where it is also made. This type of jewelry is so popular because the actresses in Bollywood movies wear Kundan jewelry frequently.
How you make Kundan jewelry?
Making Kundan Indian jewelry is rather time-consuming and it is teamwork. You need a specialist for every stage of the process because the process is complicated.
First, you make a framework of pure 24 carats gold. That is a soft gold, so you have to work very precisely to get the right shapes. After that, you pour lac or natural resin in the framework, according to a certain design. Then you place the shaped and polished colored gemstones in the framework. And you put gold foil between the mounts and the gemstones to get a neat design look. And after that, you polish the gemstones again.
The finishing touch is the enameling to you wear your piece of jewelry on both sides and it makes the jewelry even more colorful and vivid.
You see a lot of diamonds, pearls, emeralds, sapphires, jade, amethyst, and other colorful gemstones in the Kundan jewelry, which makes one piece rather expensive. Since this style is so popular there are equivalents on the market, using silver, colored glass, and metals.
Polki jewelry looks like Kundan Indian jewelry, but they use uncut raw diamonds. Those diamonds are mined in a natural way. Using the 24-carat gold and uncut diamonds Polki jewelry is only affordable for the very rich on this planet.
And the material alone does not make the full price, but you count the enormous craftsmanship and the time-consuming process that makes this type of Indian jewelry expensive, but fabulous.
Not only in India
The Kundan and Polki jewelry are not only popular in India. Using some Western and tribal Indian design influence make that the pieces of jewelry are being sold over the whole world.
And when the original is expensive, there is always a fake version available. But what is the real and what is the fake piece? Here are some tips, so that you are not being cheated:
- Ask for a certificate of Genuity
- Buy from a respected and renowned jeweler
- If the gold turns green or black, it is not gold but copper
- When the silver gets blackened after some time it is real
- And when a magnet is pulled by the jewelry, it is fake.
More Indian jewelry
You might ask when you see that nearly every Indian lady, poor or rich, wears jewelry, how important Indian jewelry is for the ladies. There is a fast and extended answer. And the fast one is ‘jewelry is very important’.
Indian jewelry symbolizes someone’s status, class, wealth, style, tribe, and region. And here we are talking about the Hindu culture and its jewelry traditions.
Every state in India has its own Indian jewelry traditions, with its own style and techniques. Jewelry is a form of art and a way for Indian ladies to express themselves and show some creativity. And they love all kinds of jewelry, like necklaces, earrings, nose rings, bangles, maangtika (a kind of pendant that goes from the middle of the hair to the forehead), or the mangalsutra, which is a longer necklace worn by married women.
They are considered to be one of the supreme symbols of Femininity and very auspicious in Hindu Culture in India. Jewelry not only helps in enhancing one’s beauty but also symbolizes wealth, power, and status. For some, jewelry is also a form of art for self, a symbol of femininity, and creative expression.
Let us start with the bangles and other types of bracelets.
Bracelet: the bangle
The bangle is very popular in India (and far beyond). It is a circular and rigid kind of bracelet, which is about 5000 years old. That is archeologists found the first known bangles in the Mohenjo-Daro settlement, now in Pakistan, which is dated 2600 BC. They discovered there in 1974 a small statue, depicting a girl, completely nude, but one arm nearly all covered with bangles.
In Siberia, scientists discovered a bracelet that looks very much like a bangle. Maybe the ‘modern’ bangle is invented in the Indian region, but the oldest one is found in Siberia and is 40.000 years old. And in many other places, there are statues and grave finds with remains of bangles, made of terracotta, stone, copper, glass, ivory, etc.
The bangle is an important piece of Indian jewelry and part of the wedding jewelry in India. They are very symbolic, which can be different per region and family. Nearly in the whole of India glass bangles represent luck in marriage and safety in life.
But the brides may also own gold-plated iron bangles, red bangles that give you energy and prosperity, or the green ones when you want to be lucky and fertile. Maybe yellow bangles for happiness, orange ones to have success, or white bangles to symbolize a new beginning. Blue bangles are the symbol of wisdom and the purple ones for independence.
On the wedding day, the girlfriends of the bride try – with the help of oils and perfume – try to get as many bracelets as possible on the arm of the bride. And the smaller the better (that brings luck). It is a very bad omen when a bracelet breaks before the husband dies. When he dies the widow breaks her crystal bracelets as a token of mourning.
And this bangle, this popular piece of Indian jewelry conquers the world. They are extremely popular in the West, preferably stacked, as Chanel ordered in her fashion shows.
Bracelet: the Kara or Kada
When I traveled in India I saw some older ladies wearing a thick metal ring or bracelet (not completely closed). I saw them at the Pushkar Fair in Rajasthan, where traditional young ladies wore them as a bracelet but also around their ankles. And in the North-East of India in the countryside, where elderly women wear them. They did not look very practical, because rather large.
I found out that they are religious bracelets, worn by the Sikhs in the North of India, the Shia sect (Islam), Punjabi’s in the North and West of India, and some Hindu tribes in the North East. This type of Indian jewelry is the symbol of an unbreakable commitment to God.
This type of Indian jewelry looks to me like a slave bracelet or slave chain.
Bracelet: the anklet
A very popular type of Indian jewelry is the anklet, called Payal in Hindi. These anklets are made of a metal or precious metal chain with little charms or beads attached to it. When a newly-wed lady comes to the house of her husband for the first time, she gets some of these anklets as a gift. Most of the time they are worn by married women, or by brave and proud girls.
Anklets are a kind of talisman or amulet, and are used as a kind of protection, or give the lady the feeling of being protected. Married ladies or women who have a lover wear them on the right ankle. Ladies who are looking for a husband, a lover, or a date wear them on the left ankle.
Wedding rings are not traditional pieces of Indian jewelry. But if couples wear wedding and engagement rings, the men wear their ring on the right ring finger and the women on the left ring finger.
When you know that wedding rings are not a tradition in Indian jewelry, you may wonder why especially men wear so many rings on their fingers. The reason is that they are worn for astrological reasons. The Ayurveda is one of the oldest healing systems in the world and it says that everything has a small energetic influence. This includes certain gemstones and precious metals.
For healing reasons, Indian men wear often gold or silver rings set with gemstones on their fingers. And the more the merrier. Especially golden rings are popular. Gold is expensive and golden rings show other people how wealthy you are. If you want to make a deal with another tradesman, you can look at his golden rings and calculate whether he has enough money to pay the bill.
Just a little remark about wearing gold…
According to the Indian Hindu religion, the goddess Lakshmi is the goddess of wealth, prosperity, and fortune. You will disrespect this goddess if you wear a piece of golden Indian jewelry below the waist. So no golden anklets in India!
A special piece of Indian jewelry: the Maangtikka
A maangtikka is a typical piece of Indian jewelry, that is worn by ladies on the forehead. It actually is a chain with a hook on one end, and the chain runs along the parting of the hair. On the other end of the chain is a kind of pendant, that comes down on the forehead.
A lady wears a maangtikka for the first time on her wedding day. It is supposed to give the bride power, will, and wisdom to follow the right path in life. Besides that, it protects her from evil and other bad things.
Besides the chain with the hook and the pendant, the lady puts some red coloring in the parting of the hair and then the maangtikka is attached. The red coloring comes from the legends about a king from ancient India, who was victorious in war. He smeared the bloom of his enemies on the forehead of his queen, including the parting of her hair.
When you have a special occasion and you want to look fabulous and hear ohhhs and ahhhhs around you… wear Indian jewelry. You will get a lot of compliments for your outfit and your clothing does not even have to be so exquisite since everybody’s eyes only go to your necklace or bracelet.
Sometimes you really don’t know what jewelry matches your outfit best. Or you don’t know what jewelry accentuates your best features. What earrings match best with your beautiful eyes? Or what necklaces enlightens your face? A lot of questions and your want the answers. You can find them in a PDF FlorenceJewelshop published. It is free of charge. Just let me know where I can send it to.