The land that was once called “Sone ki Chidiya” (Hindi for ‘The Bird of Gold’); India is one of the largest consumers of gold jewellery in the world. Gold has always symbolized wealth, but in Hinduism, gold also represents Goddess Laxmi and is thus considered highly auspicious.
In Indian weddings, jewellery plays an integral role, coming in right after the bride and groom in the hierarchy of importance. What the bride and groom wear for their ceremonies are often planned for years in advance by their families.
With jewellery taking centre stage in the country's communities, it has acquired various forms over the years, as different regions and cultures add their touches to the precious metals and stones.
Here is a list of 'Where in India can you travel to find which Jewellery'
The price of gold differs from state to state in India. For example, you will always find that gold is more expensive in Delhi as compared to Bangalore. At the moment, however, the cheapest gold in the country can be bought in Kerala.
That being said, its craftsmanship also varies from state to state!
Temple Jewellery- The currently in vogue jewellery traces its origins to the Chola Dynasty in Tamil Nadu, where the precious metal was crafted to represent gods and goddesses, ergo the name "Temple". Although predominantly consisting of gold only, sometimes precious stones are embedded in the jewellery to accentuate the designs.
Peshwai Jewellery- The evergreen jewellery originated in Maharashtra and is also called 'Maharashtrian Temple Jewellery". The most loved gold 'Lakshmi Haar' (a long necklace made of multiple gold coins) that brides often wear on their wedding day comes from this school of design.
It is safe to assume that the states mentioned above offer the most spectacular variety of jewellery representing the two design schools!
The Panna region in Madhya Pradesh houses the country’s largest diamond mines. However, it is Surat (the second-largest city in Gujarat) that is called the ‘Diamond City’ of India, on account of its famous diamond cutting and polishing plants and techniques. In fact, it is said that drastically cheaper diamonds can be bought in Surat! But it is nearly impossible to tell the difference between a real and synthetic diamond, so make sure you buy yours from a reliable source.
The most expensive diamonds come with the famous De Beer’s “Forevermark” on them, which certify that the diamond has been ethically sourced, hand-picked, untreated and natural. A diamond with a Forevermark also fetches a better price in the retail market, which people often visit when they want to upgrade their solitaires or trade their diamonds.
In India, you are likely to find both traditional and contemporary diamond jewellery styles at the same jeweller. What you get purely depends on your personal style.
3. Jadau Jewellery
This colourful traditional jewellery craft in India traces its origin back to the Mughal Era of the country. The term 'Jadau' literally means engraved; in this style of jewellery, precious stones like rubies, pearls, emeralds, and polki (uncut diamonds) are engraved in 22 carats of gold to form beautiful designs.
Today, you can find the most exquisite Jadau jewellery in Rajasthan (especially in cities like Jaipur and Bikaner). The craftsmen have been trained for years in the fine art of making jadau jewellery in a dedicated process. First, the design is created by Chiterias (artisans), and then the gems are engraved in gold by Ghaarias. Only once the stones have set, does an enameller decorate the back of the jewellery in a craft called 'Meenakari’.
Kundan jewellery is also a type of jadau jewellery. It represents a rich 2500-year-old legacy that dates back to the Mughal and Rajput eras. Only the purest form of gold (24-carat or 22-carat) is used to make Kundan jewellery because it is more malleable than its alloyed forms. The malleability allows the artisan to carve and engrave the metal easily.
A string of pearls is an evergreen piece of jewellery worn with both Indian and western ensembles. Now pearls are naturally occurring objects, making them rare and expensive (less expensive than diamonds still). The most valuable pearls in the world are the South Sea Pearls (or Basra Moti – coming from the Persian Gulf). These pearls are lighter in weight than others and come with a certification from the Kingdom of Bahrain!
In India, Hyderabad is considered the capital of pearl trade, which is why it is also called the 'City of Pearls'. Since the time of the Nizams, Hyderabad has been a hub for pearl trading, keeping alive the art of pear processing and drilling for more than 400 years. Three kinds of pearls are available in the market- 'original', cultured and semi-cultured—the original being the rarest and costliest of all. Though the original Basra Pearl is expensive, it is available in the market; it’s the original pink and black pearls that are extremely rare and very difficult to get your hands on.
According to astrology, Pearl holds a lot of power and is considered the birthstone for the month of June. It is said that Pearls bring their wearers' good fortune and marital bliss.
No Indian woman's jewellery collection is truly complete without adequate representation from the four above mentioned categories. Have you started building your lustrous collection yet? If not, which one of the four would you like to begin your jewellery journey with?