weddings of india

Evolution of bridal jewellery over the years

Over the years, bridal jewellery in India has undergone major evolution, while retaining its traditional heritage and craftsmanship. Wedding jewellery worn by Indian brides has had progressive influences like practicality and popular culture, shape its new avatar. It is unique in its identity because its roots remain in cultural values, while also being an important element of main stream lifestyle.

Significance of bridal jewellery through history

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In India, the custom of bridal jewellery is an ancient one with ornamental and symbolic uses. A bride is always adorned with precious jewellery on her wedding day and this symbolizes power, a cultured status and the financial standing of her family. The symbolism of bridal jewellery has evolved with time, but continued to be a vital part of a bride’s trousseau as it was in the olden days. In some parts of the country, it also signified traditional values as the bride also wore an heirloom piece handed down through generations. Bridal jewellery designs come in a wide variety of designs in India, with each state having its own culture reflected in the jewellery, to highlight the values of those traditions. Some of the most commonly used bridal jewellery by Indian women includes maangtika, nath or nose rings, necklaces, earrings, mangalsutra and bangles.

The history of popular types of wedding jewellery

In India, there are many popular kinds of bridal jewellery like temple jewellery, enamel meenakari gold jewellery, kundan and polki to name a few. Each of these jewellery types is a speciality from a certain region and has its own history to becoming, wedding jewellery worthy.

  1. Temple Jewellery
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Temple jewellery for example was crafted solely with the purpose of adorning the idols in temples. As time passed the temple dancers would perform dance renditions of devotional stories and so started to wear imitations of this jewellery style, copied for the idols. The dance form of Bharatnatyam grew popular and with it temple jewellery became an accessible style, thus making its way into the world of trousseau jewellery.

2. Jadau

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The Mughals brought the Jadau technique to India but, the artisans of Rajasthan and Gujarat perfected the skill with distinctive touches, to make it their own. The process of Jadau-making involves beating or heating pure gold until it is pliable, creating a frame and motif, filling lac in the hollow frame and setting precious stones in it. Jadau is a technique used in making kundan and polki jewellery. This intricate technique produces stunning jewellery that brides aspire to own. The Rajputana dynasties which ruled India till the 19th century also produced some the most intricate designs over the years, thanks to their numerous skilled craftsmen. A Rajput bride would wear some of the most mesmerising gold and kundan jewellery on her wedding day. Once meant for royalty only, this kind of jewellery is now a part of mainstream weddings.

3. Meenakari

The art of meenakari or enamel work was introduced by Raja Mansingh of Amer, when he brought down artisans from Lahore to create beautiful jewellery creations for his personal use. It is a technique of fusing powdered glass in intricate patterns to a precious metal like gold. Meenakari jewellery has now found popularity with modern Indian brides for its colourful intricate beauty. Also notable were Mughal influences on the jewellery motifs of flora and fauna, which were made popular by the dynasty during the time of their rule. Today, a modern bride’s jewellery look can be conventional or entirely distinct, depending on her tastes. From heavy temple jewellery to sleek designs in diamond, the plethora of choices and jewellery options available are many.

Design influences from the west

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India was one of the first countries to mine diamonds on the banks of River Godavari near Hyderabad and was as pioneer of what was then considered, a new-age jewel. It was only natural for royals to indulge in the fascinating jewel. Patronage from the maharajas and the nawabs, escalated the stature of diamonds to another level. Royal families had their ornate ornaments customized at leading jewellery houses across Europe, experimenting with designs, motifs and materials. This western aesthetic and different craftsmanship brought a fresh and new design aesthetic to jewellery. As the royals were the style icons of their time, their jewellery designs started influencing bridal jewellery in a big way. The use of uncut diamonds, coloured gemstones like rubies and diamonds and sapphires and western motifs were now seen in bridal jewellery.

Significance of jewellery in bridal culture

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From rings with gemstones believed to bring luck, to the nose-ring signifying feminine power and elegance, jewellery that is a part of the bride’s trousseau is denoted with unique significance. For example the mangalsutra, is believed to bring long life to the husband, hence establishing its importance, as a must-have piece of jewellery for a bride. Another bridal jewellery piece is the maangtika, which is a large pendant worn in the centre of the forehead, attached by a thin chain in the hair. This piece is said to activate the ajna chakra on the forehead, symbolizing the union of the female and the male elements- the union where all differences are overcome.  The nath or nose ring is also an important part of wedding jewellery, especially in the north of India. Again due to the acupuncture point located where the nose is pierced, this piece has special symbolic meaning for brides. In the south of India brides often wear precious jewelled belts or waistbands, known as vaddanams for their wedding. Mostly made in gold and embellished with precious stones, the waistband can be a stiff belt or chain worn to highlight the waistline of the bridal silhouette. Toe rings are another piece of jewellery meant exclusively for brides and married women, as it is believed that the pressure point they activate, aid in child conception.

Influence of cinema in bridal jewellery

Since their inception movies have influenced fashion and trends around the world. The celluloid stars of Bollywood have had an immense influence on popular culture and have defined trends for brides as well. Movies such as Jodha Akbar and Padmaavat presented a traditionally stylish, head-to-toe look of a bride laden with jewellery. Styling tricks such as layered necklaces, haathphools, stacks of rings and traditional bangles were featured extensively, influencing wedding jewellery trends. If you are looking for something unique for yourself as the big day arrives, we suggest some exemplary options from Rivaah by Tanishq, which are bound to take your breath away. With deep-rooted inspirations translating into singular pieces that entice, these are indeed superlative!

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