For centuries in India, the most important day of a person’s life was always their wedding day and this was especially true for brides. Pakistani and Indian bridal jewelry reflects this strongly, as brides have striven to be as beautiful as they possibly could be on their wedding day. The jewels worn by Indian brides are often influenced by the cultural and religious practices of the bride, as well as being chosen to match with the dress that will be worn for the wonderful day.
Polki is one of the oldest jewellery forms in India, and essentially refers to any gold jewelry that makes use of an uncut, or natural, diamond. What makes Polki popular is this natural quality; there is no cutting, no refinement, and no laboratory work whatsoever. Polki jewels are set apart from their highly refined counterparts, and these jewels can often be found in necklaces, earrings, and bracelets.
Kundan is among the oldest forms of Indian wedding jewelry, and one of the most commonly recognized forms as well. With Kundan, the process is somewhat different than with Polki, as the gems involved have to be cut and shaped meticulously. Kundan jewelry is designed with a layer of gold foil between the jewel and the metal band it is placed on. It is used in some of the most intricate pieces of Indian bridal jewelry, most commonly in necklaces. These are often a central piece of Indian wedding jewellery, and are also commonly featured in popular portrayal of Indian brides, as they have been for many centuries of Indian wedding tradition.
Another popular form of Indian bridal jewelry is Meenakari, enamelling with gold. What this means is that a piece of metal is taken and designs are engraved on it. The piece is then filled with the color that fills the grooves created by the engraving process and then fired at high temperatures to melt and spread the color across the designs. This process is repeated for each color. When the coloring is completed, the piece is polished and precious stones are added to it. The Meenakari enamelling process is a little different depending on where you are in India, but each meticulously crafted piece of jewelry that results from it is filled with color and a stunning addition to any set of Indian bridal jewelry.
Enameling is a process that goes beyond Meenakari and has a longstanding tradition in Indian bridal jewelry. Enamelling is essentially using intense head to fuse glass onto a metal surface. This is a process that can be done in a wide number of different colors or opacities; more intense heat results in more transparent coatings. This is a process that can be used to create highly intricate pieces of beautiful Indian bridal jewelry.
Wearing these Gems
Indian bridal jewelry takes several forms, largely in necklaces, bangles, and earrings, and each of these can take advantage of Meenakari, Kundan, Polki, and enamelling techniques. Generally speaking, at an Indian wedding, there is no such thing as “less is more;” more jewellery is usually a good idea. Because Indian bridal jewelry is so carefully made, and with so much detail, that it would be a shame not to be wearing as much of it as can be worn comfortably and attractively.
Indian bridal jewelry is among the best-designed forms of the craft. There is so much variety and potential for every piece of Indian wedding jewellery that it is impossible to properly document them all here. In true Indian tradition, it is best to just get as much out of it as possible, to enhance an already great occasion with beautiful pieces and amazing color.