Where Traditional CraftsManship Gives Birth to the NeW
India without jewelry is unthinkable. For Indians, jewelry is part of the very soul of this fascinating country. Here, gemstones and jewelry pieces are prized for their rich meanings and inherent symbolism and are an important part of age-old ceremonies and celebrations amongst. Weddings are especially significant. The craftsmanship involved in creating such jewelry pieces is both treasured and esteemed. Over time, the increasing cultural demand to produce ever more exquisite pieces has generated an amazing multitude of diverse goldsmithing and gemstone setting techniques. Handed down through the centuries, they remain a continuous source of inspiration for both India and the wider world. Yet India is nothing if not a country of stark contrasts, a multi-faceted nation deeply rooted in tradition but also at the forefront of technological progress. Its dynamic jewelry industry combines ancient techniques and traditional handicrafts with state-of-the-art technology. Indian designers and brands produce stylish collections that are contemporary but also true to the artisanal traditions of their ancestor goldsmiths, like those from the Mughal period – the most significant era for the development of Indian craftsmanship. Gold and silver dominate Indian jewelry along with the coveted gemstones, which are believed to have auspicious astrological and even medicinal benefits. Cultural influences abound, with the Indian craftsman seeking inspiration in the intricacies and complexities of the nation’s music, dance, religions, and textiles. This sheer wealth ofIn(dia)spiration has led the various regions to develop their own specific jewelry making traditions. © Fotocredit: Pendant by Farah Khan made with Swarovski Genuine Sapphires, Smoky Quartz, Citrine, Rhodolite, Black Spinel, Marcasite and Swarovski Zirconia and diamonds set in Yellow Gold
Set by Manish Bhindi made with Swarovski Genuine Topaz and uncut diamonds set in 22k Yellow Gold
is known for its intricate forms such as Kundan, Meenakari, Nava-ratna, Thewa and Haldili
Kundan sets large numbers of multi-colored gemstones, often irregularly shaped, in a pure molten gold. This much-loved technique is often adapted for contemporary creations.
Meenakari is the setting of precious gemstones, which are then enameled with a 22-carat gold alloy. It requires a team of craftsmen each specialized in a different technique including design, goldsmithing, engraving, enameling, polishing and stone setting.
Nava-ratna is the traditional setting of the nine stones that together symbolize the universe: a ruby or red spinel is encircled by a diamond, pearl, red coral, hessonite, blue sapphire, cat’s eye, yellow sapphire, and emerald.
Thewa heat-fuses an intricately embossed sheet of gold to multi-colored glass. It originated in the Mughal era and the knowledge of this unique technique has been closely guarded over centuries.
Haldili are Islamic jade amulets, elegantly decorated with gold inlays and precious stones in Kundan style.
Pendant by Emerald made with Swarovski Genuine Topaz and Swarovski Zirconia set in 22k Yellow Gold
typically produces nature-inspired jewelry that is heavy with 24-carat yellow gold.
Kundala-velai is synonymous with this region’s jewelry heritage. Lac-filled 22-carat gold sheets incorporating flat diamonds, rubies and emeralds are fashioned into jewelry pieces. Lac is a special type of resin used by goldsmiths to support the structure of hollow jewelry.
Nakasha-vela is another gold sheet technique that uses hammering to create low-relief designs.
Kall-velai encases mostly cabochon rubies in boxes of gold without the use of lac.
Wire Craft Bracelet by Odel made with Swarovski Zirconia set in 18k Gold
has a proud tradition of intricate filigree and wirework goldsmithing techniques that extends back more than 1200 years.
Filigree creates jewelry entirely from gold or silver wire. It is very time consuming but today’s high metal prices make this technique more relevant than ever, as a minimal amount of precious metal can create a maximum impact.
Wirework creates three-dimensional forms such as spirals and coils out of metal wire.
Set by Rhea Nasta made with Swarovski Genuine Topaz and Peridot and Swarovski Zirconia set in 925 Silver
as typified by Mumbai, the region’s largest and most modern city, unites tradition and modernity to create individualistic statement pieces.
Pachchikam Jewelry is a centuries-old art still flourishing today. It is beautiful but less costly than Kundan jewelry, using silver instead of gold. Its fragile, contemporary aesthetic has made it so popular that supply struggles to meet demand: the process is both time consuming and labor intensive.
Bead Jewelry is typically produced using beads made from hard minerals such as agate by bead makers still using hand techniques from the Neolithic age. Glass, silver and gold beads are also popular and are combined with other materials to give the jewelry a contemporary yet ethnic look.
In(dia)spiration can be seen as the merging of traditional craftsmanship with contemporary ideas that breathes new life into time-honored traditions. This continuing trend makes it clear that India’s rich heritage will be providing jewelry designers with a fount of ideas and inspiration for many years to come. Swarovski is proud that its genuine gemstones and created stones help to inspire their creative visions.