In India, jewels have been thought to possess qualities
that elevate them from being mere articles of adornment.
Jewels are believed to possess attributes that protect
the wearer from evil spirits.
By means of shaping, punching, engraving, enamelling
and inlaying techniques, beautiful ornaments are fashioned
by gold and silversmiths in almost every corner of India.
Perhaps the earliest finds in jewellery have been excavated
from Chalcolothic sites. Highly-decked terracotta figures,
copper rings, beads, bangles and hairpins found here
are dated between 3500 B.C. and 1997-2000 B.C. The jewellery
belonging to the Harappa and Mohenjodaro cultures reveals
a high degree of skill and craftsmanship.
The jewellery of the later period is reflected in the
sculptures at Bharut, Sanchi, Amarnath and Orissa, and
these have influenced the later Indian jewellery both
in design and craftsmanship.
Under the Muslim sovereigns, gold and silver jewellery
became more and more elaborately embellished with precious
stones and enamelling. The kundan work of Gujarat and
Rajasthan is the influence of Mughals.
Delhi and Jaipur are known for meenakari, the enamel
work on gold. Theva of Rajasthan is an extremely fine
work in gold leaf depicting scenes like rasalila. In
Cuttack, Orissa, attardans or rosewater sprinklers,
bowls and decorative animal and bird, especially peacock
figures are some of the articles made in the filigree
Most jewellery of Ladakh consists of fi (amber), churu
(coral), yu (turquoise) and tiny seed pearls made into
necklaces and earrings. Perak is a fascinating ornament
of this region.
Motifs of the sun, moon, naga or serpent and images
of deities are predominant in the jewellery of the southern
states. The thali, an essential component of the marriage
ceremony of many communities, is a gold necklace consisting
of numerous emblems of which the thali, usually a phallic
symbol, hangs in the centre.
Profusion in use of jewellery is still a feature of
the rural country side. The folk and tribal jewellery
of India is so varied, both in materials used, which
include lac, glass, shells and beads. Kashmir, Himachal
Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, and the tribal zones in
central, eastern and southern India are renowned for
ornaments in silver and a particular type of white metal,
an alloy of copper or tin and pewter, that imitates