Throughout history, Kundan jewellery has left a marked significance of its value amongst various cultures and societies. And even though they are commonly associated with beauty and fashion; Kundan jewellery has played a huge role in shaping the cultural and social diversities, religious beliefs, practices and spiritual aspects of different communities of India since ancient times.
When it comes to socio-cultural diversity and shining jewel pieces one can easily think about India. Just like how every part of this incredible country holds its tradition, delicacies, dressing, history and much more; jewellery has a variety of its own all across the Indian subcontinent. One of the famous things which we can see in India is its never-ending festivals and lavish marriages, and both of these are synonymous with jewellery.
The use of traditional Kundan jewellery in India makes its weddings and ceremonies rich and diverse in their manner. In most cases, the traditional pieces of jewellery are passed down from generations and the families hold them as both a traditional and sentimental asset for decades.
Different regions and cultures have unique designs and signature styles. One of which is the widely popular Kundan jewellery.
Considered to be one of the oldest jewellery crafts in India, Kundan jewellery has been a preference of the Indian brides for their Royal and exquisite look for decades. The precious colourful stones like diamond, emerald, agate, crystal, sapphire, ruby, pearls, etc. are embedded into the shining gold or silver designs to give it, its unique style which never goes out of fashion.
Source: Wedding Wire
Origin of Kundan jewellery
The Kundan pieces of jewellery, also known as Bikaneri or Jaipuri jewellery, dates back to the 3rd century BCE. It is known to start, for its journey of popularity from the Rajasthan Royal Court and flourishing under the royal patronage during the Mughal era. Traditional Kundan jewellery making was a time-consuming process that required skilled craftsmen to create intricate detailing, thus it was only crafted for the Royal families.
Over the years, this jewellery style evolved and was able to be successfully made into silver pieces in Rajasthan, Bihar and Punjab, hence making it affordable for the common masses. The availability of Kundan to the commoners led to more of its experimentation and popularity in the subcontinent.
But once the commercialization took root, the increased accessibility decreased the quality of workmanship. And now only selected artisans can be trusted for authentic, quality work.
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Rajasthani Kundan Wear
How to Make Kundan Jewellery?
The word Kundan implies a highly refined gold and since the process includes the encasing of glass and gemstones at the base of a gold foil made of highly refined pure molten gold, the name remains justified. The production process includes enamelling of the vivid colours on reverse while the Kundan designs are on the front.
The process of making this type of jewellery is complex and requires long man-hours of delicacy and attention. Each process has specifically designated craftsmen in most cases.
It starts with the skeletal framework called ‘Ghaat’, followed by the procedure of ‘paid where lac or natural resin is poured into the base and shaped according to the Kundan set designs. In the next stage of ‘Khudai’ the uncut, shaped polished gemstones are laid upon the framework. After this, more melted gold is added across the edges for a neat polished look. This is followed by ‘meenakari’ wherein the engraved pattern on the gold surface is filled with the dust of enamel of a particular colour which is then inserted in the fire to spread the colours.
This technique is repeated for each colour and then the pattern has to etch upon it with ivory. Then the process of ‘Jada and ‘pakai’ are done where finally the gemstones are held by the gold foils to make it more firm. At last, the final stage is ‘Chillai’ where the gemstones are properly polished.
Time required to create a piece of Kundan jewellery
Kundan pieces are extremely intricate in detailing and involve a lot of skilled labour. Each piece is hand-finished which translates into countless hours of labour by the artisans. Thus the time taken to craft Kundan jewellery may vary from two to four months depending on the craftsmanship and intricacy of the design.
The common motifs used in the designs of Kundan jewellery include artifacts and nature, whereas floral is the most in-demand.
The cultural Impact of Kundan jewellery
The elegant and graceful look of Kundan is always in demand for weddings and occasions. Since the traditional Indian jewellery has always been rather heavy, consisting of voluminous gold pieces; with change in time, Kundan jewellery is now made into much lighter pieces. And thus have gained newfound popularity amongst the Indian brides. Often the heavy diamond or gold set can’t compliment the bridal attire the way Kundan jewellery does. Since every bride wants to rock on her wedding day wanting to look special, the diverse collection of colours and designs ranging in Kundan sets to create the perfect mix and match enhancing the selected outfit’s colour and style.
A large number of women in India are also inspired by Bollywood fashion which pushed the mainstream popularity of Kundan jewellery by portraying them in various movies and promoting it through the diva looks. The fanfare gets even more crazed when the Bollywood actors and actresses wear designer Kundan jewellery at their weddings.
Types of jewellery included in a Kundan set:-
Kundan jewellery covers all kinds of jewellery pieces that are required for a bridal or any other kind of jewellery set. Following are the list of jewellery pieces one can find under a Kundan design:-
- Necklace: One of the most essential and common types of jewellery pieces worn at multiple occasions and ceremonies is the Necklace. There’s nothing better to accentuate the entire look than a well-crafted Kundan neckpiece to rock the outfit. It doesn’t only dazzle on one’s neck but works wonders on the overall appearance. Moreover, the colourful range of Kundan jewellery provides the variant styles, sizes and shapes of necklaces one can choose from. Usually, a thick choker-like wide coverage neckpiece looks best in bridal attire.
- Earrings (Jhumkaas or dangle earrings ): Earrings being one of the most important parts of jewellery is something that can stand out on its own as well. Even without the neckpiece, a pair of Kundan earrings can give a Royal look.
- Matha Patti: It is a type of hair accessory worn by the Indian bride on her forehead. If someone has a broader forehead – a Matha Patti can make their look even better.
- Maang tika: It can be considered as an alternative for matha Patti, coming in different shapes and sizes. Maang tikas usually come in designs, as per the design of the other jewellery.
- Rani Haar: As the name suggests, Raani Haar is a piece of jewelry that comes along history and was commonly worn by the queens. It is a type of neckpiece that can give you a royal look pretty effortlessly. As opposed to the necklace it is much longer and regal consisting of several layers and a pendant. It is a bold and standalone piece of jewellery that can turn out to be the perfect match for the Indian bride’s wedding look.
Kundan Choker and Rani Haar
Source: Wedding Wire
- Bangles: These don’t require much of an introduction, as being famous for their popularity amongst Indian women. These colourful intricately designed pieces of dangling jewellery add up a different charm to the attire.
- Hand harness or Hathphool: It is a piece of jewellery that is worn on the back of the palm. These start from the fingers like a ring bracelet and continues till the wrist. It adds embellishment to the fingers and paired with a set of rings matching with the rest of the jewellery, it is the most novel piece of Jewellery.
Nose rings, nose pins, clinking anklets, etc, are some other types of Kundan Jewellery.
The wide-ranging variety of designs experimenting and one of its kind intricate detailings are the key specialty of Kundan jewellery. The use of wood, glass, ceramic, beads and birthstone is unique in this jewellery. Faux Kundan pieces of jewellery have also been a boom in sales over the years for the benefit of those who don’t want to invest in heavy sets for long-term use. The Kundan jewellery in some cases even holds traditional values and also makes up for great gifts.
It is one such piece of jewellery that can be accessorized with both Indo-western and traditional outfits and are perfect for every occasion. The trend today is to mainly invest in the pieces that can be worn for multiple events. It is something that never goes out of fashion and can hardly dissatisfy the owner and is something that is hundred percent worth its cost.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Kundan Jewellery expensive?
- Yes, it can be an expensive buy. Being made of pure gold merged with gemstones, it’s an exquisite and regal buy.
Is Kundan more expensive than gold?
- No, Kundan jewellery is cheaper than pure gold.
What is the difference between Polki and Kundan?
- Polki is made and inlaid with uncut diamonds while Kundan is made of precious gemstones made of glass.