The Evolution Of Jewellery & The Use Of Precious Metals
Whether a simple visit to the temple, celebrating an occasion, or as a legacy we leave for our children, jewellery has been the mainstay of our lives and a global economic indicator for centuries now. Indian jewellery has a rich history that stretches through centuries. While there have been evolutions in design, kaarigari, gemstones and aesthetics through the years, what has stayed constant are the precious metals that we use. Do you know that gold and silver were first used in jewellery because there was an abundance of it during the Indus Valley civilization? Or that the elaborate Temple motifs on them came about when they began to adorn statues of Gods and goddesses during the Chalukya Dynasty? Read on…
Gold is pure temptation! If you haven’t fallen for its wiles at least once in your lifetime, then it can only be because you haven’t found the right design for your personality. Through the ages, this incredible metal has brought nations together, riven them apart, and has been used as a form of currency at some point in every country’s history.
Gold is a highly malleable metal & was first merged with Agate, Turquoise & other precious stones to craft beautiful rustic jewellery during the Indus Valley Civilisation. With the passage of time, jewellery became an offering to the Gods, hence the designs began to take on more elaborate forms. Religious symbols, stones, carvings & motifs were all incorporated to make the offerings richer & more aesthetically pleasing. Temple Dancers began to use elaborate silk costumes and jewellery as a tribute to the Lord, as they regaled devotees with mesmerizing dance performances. Stone carvings on the temple walls of South India, Odisha and Bengal stand testament to this till today.
The Mughal era brought to Indian jewellery a brilliant fusion of styles, elaborate ornamentation, and an extravagance never seen before. It is truly appropriate to say that fashion is nomadic, and no one culture or civilization can lay claim on its vast treasures.
Today, filigree work, braiding, weaving and other techniques in Gold in combination with other metals has ensured its coming full circle, without losing any of its lustre or significance.
Silver came into India much later. The kingdoms of the Kakatiyas, Satavanahas and Vijayanagara patronized Silver trade, and it was initially used as a currency. The 16th century Kakatiya Dynasty gave us the leaf and flower motifs that are so widely used in jewellery and greatly influenced Silver craftsmanship as we know it today. It boosted the industry, helped artisans push the limits of their craft, and gradually exposed them to the emerging Mughal influences of the day. The Nizams of Hyderabad, for eg, widely used Silver for their day to day needs. Stunning Paandaans (betel nut boxes), Gulabpash (rose water sprinklers) and other decorative art works took the demand for Silver kaarigari several notches higher, and it was now seen as a serious source of livelihood. European invaders brought with them their own design aesthetic, and introduced our craftspeople to new and varied genres. The Silver jewellery we use today is a mix of these myriad influences, with Sterling Silver and mixed metals giving us affordable designs that are perfect for everyday use.
The purpose of jewellery was, and still is to showcase one’s economic background, family, and ancestral traditions. However there has been a significant shift in thought processes today. Metals are now chosen based on the occasion, ease of wear, safety, and specific purpose that they are meant for.
There hasn’t been a better time for jewellery lovers. Vast choices in stones & metals, customization options, rapid design innovations, and fair pricing ensure that India is still well and truly the jewellery hub of the world.