(Last Updated on : 13/01/2014)
History of Indian jewellery
has inspired modern and contemporary jewellery designers to introduce unique and intricate styles in the modern-day jewelleries. Ornaments in the country have undergone several transformations, under the cultural influence and reign of different dynasties
and periods for a period of over 5000 to 8000 years. India is believed to possess one of the most ancient historical legacies of crafting jewelleries, which can be traced back to the era of Ramayana
. Jewelleries proved to usher in financial prosperity for India since the abundant quantity of jewel resources permitted India to utilize them as a significant form of exchange and export with foreign countries. The earliest form of jewellery discovered in the Indian continent, are described as ancient jewellery
. The ancient jewellery of India includes a large variety of earrings, beads, amulets, seals
, amulet cases, necklaces
, and much more.
Ancient History of Indian Jewellery
Numerable parts of Indus Valley Civilization
, which represented regions of the current-day Pakistan and north-western portions of India were known for producing memorable masterpieces of jewelleries. People belonging to this ancient Indian civilization were quite fond of flaunting different types of jewelleries, which is evident from the statues of this era. Metallic bangles, bead neckpieces, gold
necklaces and beautiful gold earrings were manufactured within 1500 BC. Bead ornaments were favoured prior to 2100 BC, since at this point of time the utility of metals was not fully realised. Simple procedures were incorporated to create astonishing pieces of bead jewellery
in those times, which also involved introducing Persian motifs in ancient ornaments. Some of these ornaments exuded a charm typical to jewelleries utilized by the Hindu
s. However, during Indus Valley Civilization, jewelleries were more popular amongst the womenfolk
who loved wearing shell or clay bracelets which were resembled doughnuts and were black.
, brooches, gold chokers, earrings, necklaces and gold bands worn on the foreheads were in high demand, while some of the men wore beads. Tiny beaded jewels were employed to adorn the hair of men and women, which measured about one millimetre in length. A special bracelet known as `kada` is frequently used in the country, since times immemorial, and its patterns were inspired by elephant
s and other beasts. Hindus have always believed that metals like silver and gold are holy since gold signifies the warmth of the Sun God or Lord Surya
and silver represents the calmness of the moon. Since pure gold is never corroded with time, Hindu traditions prioritize the usage of gold and relate gold with the concept of immortality. Gold jewelleries
are mentioned in ancient Indian literature
Medieval History of Indian Jewellery
Medieval India witnessed the utility of a large variation of jewelleries, particularly the period between the 16th to 19th centuries. Indian jewelleries played a crucial role especially in the Indian royalty and it enabled the establishment of many administrative laws. Women were entitled to wear gold jewels on their feet only if they received an official permission and also womenfolk belonging to the royalty. Rulers or `Maharajas` were more deeply associated to various kinds of magnificent jewelleries, though jewels were also very common amongst the general masses of the country. The `Navaratna
` or nine-gem studded ornament was amongst a significant jewellery which was highly popular amongst Maharajas. The Navaratna gem comprised an amulet composed of red zircon
or `hyacinth`, diamond
, cat`s eye
. It is said that each of these precious stones symbolised a celestial deity, and diamond is considered the strongest Indian gemstone
. The gemstones of this jewel used to be available in various cuts and sizes, and were revered by the family members of royal dynasties as Hindu Gods
Jewellery during Mughal Period
Historical evidences have indicated that India was amongst the first nation where diamonds were mined since 269 BC. Since historic ages in India, diamonds had played an important role in serving as tribute, regaining the love and affections of a passionate lover, or acting as major sources of exchange for providing defence and concessions. Diamonds were employed by Mughal emperors
for the purpose of engraving their own titles and names over them, in order to immortalize themselves in the pages of history. Jewelleries have often been used in numerable social, religious, economic and political events of the country while diamonds extremely useful for collecting military arms, fuel rebellions and even to finance battles. Diamonds were also in favour for acquiring loans of large amounts and even for dynasties which were on the verge of downfall and decline.
The jewellery consisted of `bindis`, `tikkas`, forehead ornaments, nose ring
s, ear ornaments as well as the earrings. Such adornments have been inherited by the present generations due to the past rich legacy of the great Indian rulers and the population of those times. The artisans in those times have crafted these head ornaments with a lot of artistry in order to make them skilful wonders. Turban jewellery
was also considered as an important part of the jewellery, however, mostly for the rulers. This form of jewellery surely forms an important part of these ruling dynasties and the former have been an integral part of deciphering the reign of any particular clan. For example, turban
jewellery worn by every particular king had the choice of gemstones and fine artwork of jewellery makers present in that particular part of India. This surely made all turban jewellery significant and thus, the same could be easily traced back to any part of India, from where it was made.
and necklaces have been an epic chapter in the history of Ancient Indian Jewellery All the other forms of decoration are supposedly considered incomplete if the necklaces and the pendants are not a part of an individuals` jewellery. Pendants had their own charm and their own importance for being worn around the necks. However, when it came to the necklaces, they were mostly made in gold added along with the gemstones to add more fascination for the onlookers. However, apart from having their own share of fame during the earlier times, one cannot help but notice, the recent generation too getting captivated in those designs and it resulting in the same designs and patterns coming back to life, since these Mughal
designs are the very base of every delicate handiwork by the modern jewellery makers. Let us categorize the same ancient jewellery in different forms and see the delicate designs, which have been the basis of modern jewellery since the recent jewellery makers have inherited this fashion statement as well.
Gold has been found practically everywhere in the world, even in seawater, but in vastly varying quantities. Gold coins
, when they are minted stand at the head of every coinage. It very often contains an admixture of silver in its natural state. Most of the gold in India proper is found in Karnataka
and today it is mined industrially in the Kolar Gold Fields
. From the artistic point of view, the gold coins of the Guptas
are amongst the finest ever minted.