Delve into the fascinating history of how today’s prominent jewels and designs came to be!
You may have heard the saying “diamonds are forever”. The quote went on to become a trendsetter in the 1950s with Marilyn Monroe inspiring people of the era to include diamonds in their outfits.
But why does this quote still bear relevance, even 70 years later? Not just diamonds, why do you think people have been buying jewellery all these years, even during and after the life-altering global pandemic? The answer is straightforward.
Jewellery may have begun in human civilization as a staple. But over the years, it has become an essential part of self-expression. Therefore, we thought it’d be an interesting idea to tell you how people have donned jewellery as a way of self-expression over the past few decades, and the fashion icons who’ve championed trends that continue to influence us, even today! Take a look.
Wood, Bead & Bone Jewellery of the Indus Valley
In olden days people used to wear jewellery made of wood, bead, bone or clay. Although these forms of jewellery lost popular favour, many bead-based designs have made a quiet comeback to recent times. Beaded jewellery, sometimes characterised as ‘junk jewellery’, makes appearances with both Indian and western wear, adding colour and funk to one’s outfit.
Excavated ornaments from the Indus Valley dig sites
India went on to become the largest manufacturer and exporter of beads to the world. The craftsmen of Indus Valley not only excelled in engineering the jewellery, but also designing it. Designs they pioneered at the time are still used by craftsmen today.
Temple Jewellery: Gold, Pearls & Precious Stones
What initially began as jewellery being used to adorn the idols at temples, turned into temple Bharatanatyam dancers wearing imitation jewellery inspired by the idols. With the spread of the dance form all across India, temple jewellery style found its way into people’s attire. Figures of several gods and goddesses, fused with gold and precious stones began appearing on pearl string necklaces.
These jewellery pieces were also sometimes used to signify the wearer’s relationship with the gods, with the Navratna necklace being one of the most popular trademarks of temple jewellery.
The Navratna Necklace
Geometrical & Nature-inspired Designs of the Mughal Period
Artisanal craftsmanship thrived under the Mughals, ushering innovative techniques; most notably the kundan method of setting stones in pure gold. India became the first country to mine diamonds. Rubies and diamonds were immensely popular during this time, with emeralds being the all-time favourite of the Mughals who sometimes referred to the gem as ‘tears of the moon’.
The Taj Mahal Emerald
Meenakari, a Persian art which colours the surface of gold & silver metals by fusing brilliant colours, was also introduced during the Mughal period and was brought to Varanasi by Persians. Mina (Minoo) in Persian translates to the blue colour of heaven.
Sapphire, Ruby & Emerald influences of the Colonial Period
Indian craftsmen were also inspired to create complex pieces of jewellery during the 19th and 20th century, when India was under Colonial rule. This cross-cultural influence worked the other way too, with European jewellers like Cartier creating signature pieces inspired by floral motifs of South Indian temple jewellery.
Cartier’s tutti frutti bracelet
Our jewellery not only adorns and embellishes our attire, but also tells us of a journey – a journey it took across cultures, continents and craftsmen, to end up around your wrist. The next time you get ready to go out and put on your jewellery, remember – you’re carrying a piece of history with you!