Antique jewels can compel one to take a deep dive into the rich folklore attached to their existence. Also, their striking rustic vintage charm and vivid colours are enough to grip one’s attention and never let go of it. Below are a few antique Indian jewelry styles that are still very popular:
This unique art form developed in the late 1500s in Orissa and is a modified version of Greek Filigree work. It displays a unique combination of utility as well as beauty and is inspired from Nature. Most tarakashi designs feature intricate elements of flora and fauna in fine silver wire. Customarily a “charkha” was used to swirl out brooches, necklaces, hoops, and pendants. But now even tarakashi rings, toe-rings, anklets and hairpins are becoming highly popular because of their exclusive antiquated design.
Dating back to the 16th century, the Thewa art of making jewelry is still very popular in parts of Rajasthan and Gujarat. Infusing the audacious lustre of 23K gold with festive vibrant beads, this design was first made by a Pratapgarhia goldsmith Nathu Lal Sonewal. Soon after, it caught the eye of Maharaja Sumant Singh, during whose reign this art form flourished.
Origination from the Kutch of Gujarat, this art form derives its name from a Gujarati word “Pachchigar” meaning a goldsmith. Pachchikam jewelry is made using soft shimmery metals preferably platinum or (now) silver. Usually, glass beads and semiprecious metals add colour to Pachchikam rings, bangles, anklets, trinkets, jhumkis and pendants.
Introduced by Raja Mansingh, this artistic jewelry form uses enamelling to amp up the aesthetic coefficient of the ornament. Typically, this art form is fairly laborious and is usually kept on lac sticks while the designs are etched on it. Later, suitable coloured enamel dust is poured into these grooves and then heated until the dust liquefies and travels all around the groove. Then, the prepared design is set in silver or gold to complete the adornment.
Meenakari work of Bikaner (Rajasthan), Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh), Hyderabad (Andhra Pradesh) and Kolkata is highly popular all over the world. Nathadwara’s silver meena work looks exquisite and is very popular amongst the young fashionistas.
Incorporating the extravagance of diamonds, rubies, sapphires and other gemstones, this form of art originated in the Rajasthani and Gujarati royal courts in the early 19th century. Kundan’s charm and unique claw setting are definitely hard to miss. Also, stone encrusted Kundankari jewels are often lined with vividly colourful Meena. Kundan wristlets, necklaces, earrings and anklets are even today used by modern fashion-conscious brides.
Combining the elegance of Meenakari work and the extravagance of Kundankari, this form of studded jewelry looks to be lifted out directly from the Mughal era. This setting technique uses uncut diamond polkis and semiprecious stones as embellishments. Usually, gold or silver foil is wrapped around the polki to make it more glistening, while a lac framework is prepared by the Ghaarias. Then, the polki is pushed and set into the lac structure, which is then finished by using gold. Also, colourful semi-precious and precious stones are studded in Jadau jewels to make them ready for the brides.
Influenced by the European style jewels brought and adorned by the British invaders, the Victorian style jewels are made using gold, platinum or silver and decorated with inexpensive garnets, corals and other commonly available materials. These articles usually bear an inimitable Anglo-Indian charm which has made them highly popular among the Gen Y. Inexpensive Victorian brooches, bracelets and hair adornments are used by Indian girls even today.
Undoubtedly, antique Indian jewelry gels up very well with traditional attires including Saris, Salwaar Kameez, Ghagra Cholis, and Dhoti Kurtas, but it can also be mixed and matched with present-day outfits. Furthermore, antique jewels can also be very well incorporated in everyday fashion. For instance, a simple inexpensive casual Indian suit can be jazzed up with a trendy antique necklace or even a bangle or two.