Everybody knows that there was a time when India was rich and prosperous, but did you know that India, till the 18th century, was the sole diamond supplier to the world? because the world’s first diamond mine was discovered in Golconda, Hyderabad.
Indus Valley Civilization, 1500 BC
In the Harappan civilization, men and women both wore bangles, ornaments, earrings, rings, and belts made of beads, stones, bones, clay, terracotta, and thread. After some time passed, they learned to make metal jewellery and roughly melting, moulding, and refining techniques were invented.
By the passage of time, elephant trunks, brass, and semi-precious stones were used; later on, we moved to silver and gold; likewise, we developed our jewellery.
Mauryan Empire, 321 BC
Women would rather wear a two-thread necklace or a seven-thread necklace; metals were famous, that was gold; precious stones like corals or munga; rubies or Manik; Neelam; agate; Suleman stone; crystal; and various types of beads were used.
Satavahana rule 230 BC
During Satavahana rule, exquisite necklaces, earrings, bracelets, and armlets for men were designed; conch shells and elephant tusks were used for bangles; disk-shaped earrings; and different types of jewellery for the hair, which were still worn by Bharatnatyam dancers. necklace made of pearls. To protect children from evil eyes, they wear tiger nails and pendants.
The first tangible evidence has survived from ancient times that the kind of jewellery worn by the ancient king and queen of India was gold earrings belonging to the Satavahana queen from Jaggayyapeta in Andhra Pradesh from the 1st century BC.
There were excellently crafted earrings decorated with winking lions and elephants, ironically. these important pieces of jewellery are not in India anymore and now they are displayed in a museum Newyork.
Gupta rule: 320 BC to 750 BC
Pearls were used widely in this era. Beaten-work filigree or intricate carving on silver and thread art skillfully used gold and silver ornaments for both men and women. Hence, this golden period of history devolved various skills in art, sculpture, etc.
Mughal era (1526-1761)
During Mughal rule in the 16th century, stones such as rubies and Manik, emeralds and Panna, Turquoise and Firoza, topaz or pukhraj, jade or nag, beads, sapphires, and neelam gained popularity. During this period, Rajasthan was the only jewellery-making hub where gemstones, jade, intricate silver work, and Thewa were examples of exquisite art popularized by the Mughals. Birds and flowers were made in designs called meenakari.
The Mughal king and queen wore expensive necklaces and chains studded with pearls, gems, and the best of beads. earrings of a square and round shapes. Queens used to wear long earrings, exquisite nose rings, and side-hooked Maang tikkas gained during the period. The Mugal left a lasting impact on Nizam’s jewellery in Hyderabad.
It is believed to be India’s widest and most expensive collection of jewellery; it consists of 173 ornaments studded with 2000 carats of emeralds and 40,000 pearls. The most expensive possession is Jacob Diamond’s 5th largest diamond and most expensive pearl necklace. Bashraq is also part of the collection and stunned with 465 pearls.
Jacob’s diamond was purchased by Nizam Mir Mehboob from Alexander Jacob; the deal between them was mired in controversy, which led to a bitter court case. This resulted in Nizam losing all interest in diamonds and considering them unlucky.
He wrapped the diamond in dirty cloth and stuck it inside an old shoe. After his death, the diamond was found by his son and successor, Mir Osman Ali Khan. The last nizam used it as a paperweight for a long time. Currently, the diamond is kept at the Reserve Bank of India vaults in Mumbai.
During the 19th and 20th centuries
Indian jewellery was influenced by colonial rule, and Russian, European, and Indian craftsmen started exchanging ideas. This cross-cultural inspiration was evident in Indian jewellery. such as Navratna and the priceless Kohinoor discovered in this period.
Navratna jewellery is the most widespread jewellery form to come out of India. Navratna, which means literally in Sanskrit “nine gems,” means that gems are inherently tied to mythological concepts around cosmology, astrology, and the Navratnas, or nine celestial gods.
These stones are ordered on each jewellery piece the same way each of the celestial deities they represent is situated within the temple, with a ruby always set in the centre as it represents the son.
Together, these stones are considered an amulet that protects the wearer. India’s jewellery consists of many designs and styles. like Odisha and Andhra Pradesh’s dedicated filigree work and Nagercoil, the temple town in the south is famous for temple jewellery and Delhi is famous for Kundan jewellery and regional jewellery.
Rajasthani matha patti, Maharashtrian nath and thushi south India Lakshmi bangles and necklaces, Punjabi chooda, Rajasthani hathphool and kundan earrings, Bengal shankhapola and chur bangles, Hyderabad lakh bangles,
Arunachal Pradesh bebop and kichli, Manipur liksoi, Tripura coin necklace, Assam’s gamkharu, Uttar Pradesh passa, Bihar’s hansoles and turquoise necklace, Jammu Kashmir tribal silver accessories, Andhra Pradesh pazeb and Odisha Takashi. has gained popularity in the past few years.
In India, jewellery is also viewed as a source of security that can be used in times of financial uncertainty. Gold and silver are considered sacred metals. Jewellery is also used in astrology for idols of gods and goddesses and also for elephants, cows, and horses, for which special jewellery is made.
Jewellery used in famous dance forms such as Kuchipudi, Kathak, and Bharatnatyam to showcase the beauty of art, Mangal sutra, a nose ring, and a toe ring used by married women in marriage ceremonies show their marital status.
Women wear chooda because it means they got married. Rosary, hamsa, om pendants, and kada indicate religious wearings. Indian jewellery has come a long way, and with time, it has come to indicate our financial, religious, and social status according to the social status of that era.