15 Sep Our Stones: India
Cultural influence in jewellery is huge! Stones found in their native countries are key to a great unique piece of jewellery. We’re going to take you around the world, peek into some culture and history of stones and jewellery from each region. First up is culture rich India!
Indian jewellery history
The significance of jewellery in the Indian culture is almost as old as the country itself! Most evidence points to India having the biggest historical legacy in jewellery creation.
During the Mughal Dynasty jewellery making was of the utmost importance, and it pushed India right to the center of the global gem trade. India was the only source of diamonds up until the 18th century! The ports of Goa were a central hub for Sri Lankan sapphires, Colombian emeralds and Burmese rubies.
In India it is rare to see a woman without jewellery, as to them jewellery signifies beauty and wealth. Literally from head to toe, Indian women love their jewellery, and value every piece as it typically has significant meaning.
The gift of jewellery is tradition in India – with women receiving jewellery upon their birth and for every event after. Although the tradition of jewellery giving has stayed the same throughout the centuries, the jewellery is more modern in today’s culture.
It’s hard to pinpoint the exact Indian style of jewellery as it can differ greatly depending on aesthetic sense, religious needs, and even region. Everything from Emeralds, to Pearls, to Rubies, to Sapphires and Diamonds can be seen in Indian jewellery.
The Tika is a pendant which sits in the center of a woman’s forehead, with a chain wrapping around to hook at the back in the hair. The center of the forehead symbolizes the preservation chakra.
An integral part of bridal jewellery, nose rings are often custom made for the woman based on region and wealth. A nose ring is a necessary traditional piece to most married women.
Often worn near the heart, necklaces represent love. Stones in the necklace represent eternal powers, which strengthen when worn near the heart.
Indian women wear bangles to express their presence and gain attention, but bangles also increase the energy passing through the outer skin, and make pleasant, relaxing windchime-esque sounds. These are the most popular pieces of jewellery worn, as bangles can be made from anything from wood to the most delicate stones, making bangles accessible and affordable for all women.
Silver toe rings absorb energy from the earth and pass it through the women’s body. The nerves of the toe are connected to the uterus, so married women often wear these to help revitalize their reproductive systems.
Mostly worn only during special ceremonies, the belly belt is believed to help control the build up of fat in the waist, and helps one maintain a womanly figure.
North American influence
Indian jewellery is certainly bold and vibrant, and for the past decade or so, Indian jewellery has been gaining major traction in the North American market. As Bollywood steeps into US culture we have seen many non-Indian actresses choose Indian-style jewellery for their red-carpet events, and even for their own personal jewellery collections.
North American women appreciate the rich colours, sophistication, as well as the traditional, vibrant look and feel of Indian jewellery, and like it as an alternative to the more subtle, delicate pieces found in our region. A few years ago, the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York City featured the popular exhibit ‘Treasures from India: Jewels from the Al-Thani collection’, thus bringing Indian jewellery firmly into rotation in North America.
The bold, exotic stones seen in Indian jewellery are a huge influence in a lot of modern North American jewellery, and becoming even more popular.