The Indian subcontinent – a part of the world with a glorious tradition of art and colorful festivals – is known for its opulence and luxury in terms of jewelries. Jewelry and various gemstones form the royal passion trails in India. From the unparalleled grandeur of Koh-i-Noor to the gold crowns of the Maharajas, precious metals have made India a treasure trove of designs.
It may be noted that design concepts in this fabulously diverse country have constantly evolved through various cultural and customary exchanges. The world’s love of diamonds had its start in India, where the most valued allotrope of carbon were gathered from various rivers and streams. The country’s resources, however, yielded limited quantities of diamond for a limited market. Gradually, the caravan of Indian diamonds, along with other exotic merchandise, found their way to Western Europe, especially in the medieval markets of Venice. By 1400 B.C., gems were becoming very popular and fashionable accessories for Europe and Rome’s elite. At that time, India had an abundant supply of precious metals and gemstones – just enough to sustain the country’s economy during rough patches.
When the supply started depleting, the people of the Indus Valley began to develop a clear understanding of how to preserve the country’s riches and started creating gold earrings and necklaces, bead necklaces, and metallic bangles. They also got involved in bead trade to accumulate wealth. Females started using clay or shell bracelets. Production and trading of gold took center stage. Pure gold does not oxidize or corrode with time, which is why the Hindu tradition associates gold with immortality from those early days. Reference to gold occurs frequently in ancient Indian literature as well. Silver came next in terms of value and rarity. Today, gold and silver are an indispensable part of Indian ceremonies and weddings, enjoying a position of great significance in the cultural and religious discourse of the country.
India being a major hub of culture, art and tradition is the Shangri-La of creative visions and explorations. Indian jewelry designers and manufacturers have always been eager to play around with forms and themes to transform the good to the best and the best to the most exclusive. They make wonderfully intricate jewelry pieces using various metals and gems. Sometimes certain non-metallic substances such as Bakelite and plastics are generously used to manufacture bracelets, anklets, bangles, necklaces and earrings. This type of fresh and diverse approach to jewelry designing and manufacturing has brought about a new wave in the jewelry market. The modern Indian women have espoused the offbeat styles alongside the traditional stuff, thus encouraging the new generation of artists and designers to tread new pathways. It’s important to note that jewelry of any kind in India is far beyond an accessory – it upholds the traditional belief mechanisms of Indians. Jewelry serves as a personal statement, an expression of individuality and a tangible token of loyalty. The emerging trend is to incorporate the minimalistic look and feel of the West while faithfully standing by the traditions of the land.