Love for ornaments and adornment is embedded in the DNA of Indians. During ancient times, Indians of yore lived simply, but took care to prettify their bodies with various ornaments that were made of natural materials such as leaves, shell, flowers, animal bones and teeth and more. Ornaments, dated 5,000 years old, such as bracelets and cummerbunds, neckpieces and earrings, have been found in the Indus Valley.
Later, jewellery was fashioned out of various metals and set with gemstones and pearls. Apart from adornment, jewellery also served as an investment option. Both women and men wore jewellery to flaunt their wealth and status in society.
A woman would generally be covered from head to toe with ornaments. Some of the well-known jewellery pieces were head ornaments like diadems or mukuts, forehead decorations like the lalatas, necklaces including haars, collars and torques or haslis with intricate designs, earrings or kundalas in elaborate formats covering not just the lobe but the entire ear, nath or the nose rings, shoulder ornaments called the skandha abharana, upper arm bracelets, finger and thumb rings, waistbands or cummerbunds, anklets and toe rings. Instances of various forms of jewellery are peppered in Indian mythology, epics and literature.
Endowed with supplies of gold, gems such as rubies, diamonds, coral, and sapphires, India had mastered the art of making jewellery very early on. Gradually, Indian templates got influenced by traders and invaders. Greek influences can be seen in jewellery made during the Sunga and Gandharva periods, while the Dutch designs were made during the rule of Shah Jahan. With the arrival of the Mughals, Indian jewellery got further enhanced and the art of enamelling got revived like never before. We have a 5,000-year-old history for jewellery making, and the love affair with jewellery continues to be strong as ever.
Today, jewellery formats have undergone a lot of changes, but the basic crafts remain the same. Most of the traditional techniques of India are still practised by skilled karigars in different parts of the country. Modern jewellery designers cater to the woman of today with patterns that are in sync with her needs.
It is believed that nearly 70% of jewellery sales are driven by the bridal segment, backed by a strong affinity for gold, followed by diamonds and coloured gemstones. There is a cornucopia of jewellery styles that are popular, cutting across regions and states – jadau or jadtar, kundan-meena sets, antique-finish jewellery, filigree and naqashi work, temple jewellery – the variety is simply overwhelming.
ADORN dedicates a major section of this issue to bridal jewellery. The Jewel Gallery for brides displays stylish and opulent pieces currently available on the shelves; Snehal Choksey, partner of Shobha Shringar, a famous jewellery house, gives bridal jewellery trends in the Expert Speak segment; and in the Brides of India section, we have chosen some of the latest pieces from Azva, the bridal jewellery brand that was launched two years ago by the World Gold Council. Some top fashion designers display their classy yet edgy outfits with the Azva collection.