I like Indian jewellery designs but not the emphasis on gold.
That got me thinking that people are unaware of India’s rich heritage in making jewellery. Jewellery is a 5,000-year-old fashion tradition in India and a wide range of materials types have been used within this period. Here are some of the other jewellery types that are indigenous to India
Dhokra is non–ferrous metal casting using the lost wax casting technique. This process has been used in India for over 4,000 years. Dhokra is a tribe of metalsmiths of West Bengal, a state in Eastern India. Their technique of lost wax casting is named after their tribe, hence Dhokra metal casting. The tribe which are still nomadic, now extends from Jharkhand to West Bengal and Orissa to Chattisgarh.
There are two main processes of lost wax casting: solid casting and hollow casting. While the former is predominant in Southern India, the latter is more common in Central and Eastern India. The procedure starts with a clay model and strings of beeswax that are used to channel the molten brass. Once the desired shape is obtained, it is left outside to dry under the sun. When completely dried, the piece is checked for alignment and heated under the ground. Finally, the work is treated to a fine polish to highlight the legendary allure of Dhokra. It takes several days for the craftsmen to complete Dhokra pieces and success of their work is dependent on weather conditions.
The most common jewellery in India is glass bangles. They are usually worn in pairs by women, one or more on each arm. Bangles are circular in shape, and, unlike bracelets, are not flexible. Bangles are also the symbol of the nuptial rituals. An Indian bride will be wearing gold as well as glass bangles on her wedding day. The glass bangles are mostly of the colour of the wedding dress. It is a common tradition to see a new bride wearing glass bangles at her wedding & the honeymoon will end when the last bangle breaks.
Raw glass for bangles is of the same material as for other glasswares and is taken out of the furnace through the pipes. Without removing the pipes, the molten glass is beaten to make its dimensions equal. After this, the glass with the pipe is placed in another furnace which has an automated roller. When this molten glass comes in contact with the roller, it starts stretching like a thread and rolls around it. In this process a spring of glass is formed. To make separate bangles, this spring is then cut with the help of a cutter.
Jewellery that is made from the tusk of an elephant is called ivory jewellery. Historically, wearing of ivory bangles used to be a must for bride in some regions of the country such as Rajasthan & Gujarat, Ivory, being soft, can be shaped into desired designs and patterns. Its USP was its light weight and white colour, which made it extremely attractive to people. Ivory is smooth and desired texture can be easily depicted on it. It was for these reasons it was very popular among jewellery makers. Ivory was used for making jewellery even before gold or any other metal, was used for jewellery making.
- Lac (lacquer)
Lac jewellery, also known as lacquer jewellery, originated in Rajasthan. People in Rajasthan believe that lac bangles bring good luck to those who wear them. Lac bangles are the most popular form of lac jewellery and are of very bright colors. The other types of work on bangles include embroidery or small glass pieces or paintings or even small hangings that are attached to the bangles. The rareness of a color and its unique value increase the value of a lac bangle.
The bangles of lac consist of an inner-core that has a covering of thin layer of superior quality lac. Core lac, when mixed with a material similar to white clay, strengthens the bangle. The heating, mixing, kneading, and hammer pounding of the parched ingredients takes place repeatedly and dough like mass is formed. Once this mass is heated, it is given shape and the expansion of the lac takes place. This results in thickening of bangle. Then a flat-shaped tool is used to roll the bangle across the flat surface, which gives it a proper thickness. The shaping is done by suppressing the length of lac into coloured grooves on every side of the mould.
Fashioning terracotta is one of the oldest jewellery crafts of India and dates back to the Harappa and Mohenjodaro civilizations. Archaeologists have found a variety of ornaments, such earrings, necklaces, pendants, and bracelets. Designs for these ornaments were inspired by nature, and portray animals, leaves, and flowers. The terracotta industry was developed to its fullest in West Bengal and Tamil Nadu.
The process of manufacturing involves purifying the clay, then shaping and designing the wet slab. It is then dried by exposure to the sun. Then the pieces are burned in a fire kiln so the clay develops a stone-like consistency. During the process of firing, the clay will take on either a natural brick color or shades of pink, grey, or white, depending on the quality of the clay. If the clay is burned along with sawdust, it will turn a natural black. These shaped and burnt clay pieces are then painted by hand with bright colours. Different rough or glazed finishes can be given to these terracotta jewellery products. They are painted, carved, or embedded with stones or beads, and embossed with patterns and traditional shapes.