How often have you heard the proverb - “old is gold”. Short but descriptive in every sense, it means anything that is old is as valuable as gold. Why then would it be different with jewellery? Antique jewellery has, ironically, made a “comeback”. Whether it’s a traditional wedding or a religious ritual to attend, antique designs complete the look with their intricate designs.
What are the Antique Designs?
The word ‘antique’ can justify its description when it comes to design. Antique designs in gold jewellery consist of designs that are intricate embodying ancient heritage and culture depending on which part of India it was influenced by. Each piece is designed and crafted by skilled craftsmen requiring hours of concentration and hard work. Designs often represent the royal remains of India’s past with its exquisite use of gold and delicate designs of flowers, moons, stars or even temple deities. Artisans across have sculpted these designs that cannot be replaced by the ever-growing technology of today. In fact, antique designs are considered a valuable heirloom for the newer generation.
Different types of Antique designs
There are many types of stunning Antique designs conceived by craftsmen of bygone eras. So divine is their work- it has even stood the test of time and is here to stay. Following are a few types of designs that stand out and are popular in today’s world for its uniqueness.
Often mistaken as the only option in Antique jewellery, these are inspired by Hindu deities and of South Indian temple architecture. Temple jewellery go back all the way to the 9th century of Chola and Pandya dynasties. It was a time when kings employed goldsmiths to create jewellery that was to be adorned on deities. These were also used as accessories for royals.
Temple jewellery is elaborate and is handcrafted with the utmost concentration. It is studded with rubies, stones, garnets, kemp stones, emeralds and pearls. Certain types of jewellery require wax or lac to give its unique shape and to embed precious stones. Apart from deities, there are other temple motifs that include mango, swan, lotus, parrot, serpent and even temple towers.
The most popular ones are collections that are often used in dance forms like Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi for their intricate designs and priceless historical value.
Although the art of Meenakari originated in Iran, the Mughals bought it to India in the early 16th century. The word ‘Mina’ in Persian means azure colours of heaven. The Royal Raja Mansingh of Mewar became a patron of this art and bought it exclusively to Rajasthan. Today, Delhi, Jaipur and Varanasi are considered the exclusive hub for Meenakari Jewelry.
The beauty of Meenakari jewellery lies in the colouring of metal surfaces by combining it with bright colours. A variety of patterns are made including floral themes, birds and animals in yellow, light blue, red and green. So unlike the regular gold making process, meenakari jewellery involves different stages. The jewellery designer creates the design and shares it with the goldsmith. It takes a whole team from then on to engrave, apply colours, polish, set stones and give the final touch-ups. Meenakari truly represents the rich heritage of India and is a dream to own something so exquisite. It is indeed a trending style for wedding post-wedding events.
Unique to its finesse and technique, this type of jewellery originated from Calcutta in West Bengal India. Spot this design for its use of flattened, vibrant yellow gold with ornate designs. Traditionally, only gold was used in the design, unlike today where enamel, pearls and precious stones are being used. Having these combined only elevates the look of Calcutta jewellery designs. Gold filigree or latticework and meenakari work are used in different types of ornaments like earrings, necklaces, mang tikkas- even bangles. This antique design is extremely unique and is popular for its outstanding lustre.
Kundan jewellery is a popular choice especially in the North of India. These are handmade using age-old expertise that only the skilled can demonstrate by beating the gold into thin sheets and embedding stones. Kundan jewellery is created by setting uncut but shaped glass-like stones and multi-coloured gemstones embedded in the metal gold as a base. In fact, Kundan jewellery is so unique to its design, it includes a long detailed process. Pure gold is beaten into thin sheets to form the outline. The sheets are craft-fully made into cups to seat the stones. Traditional Mughal colours like red, green and white reign this type of jewellery design.
It’s the versatility of this style that makes it absolutely timeless and popular. Not only can Kundan jewellery be worn with traditional Indian outfits, it pairs beautifully with even simple modern attires.
The latest trending jewellery design is definitely the ‘Antique’ look. Antique jewellery use designs from bygones with a rustic finish. Like an emotional heirloom, these designs have a charm of its own that remains timeless. In India, antique jewellery consists of semi-precious and precious stones. Some ancient styles include Pachchikam, Thewa and Tarakashi. All three styles go beyond 500 years back and originate from Orissa, Rajasthan and Gujarat respectively. Tarakashi designs are rich in patterns and use delicate interwoven metal wires to create a lattice look. Thewa, on the other hand, fuse sheets of gold on multicoloured molten glass making it an absolute artistic delight. Pachchikam uses elaborate stonework to enhance its rough antique-style finish.
Antique jewellery typically includes elaborate stonework with a rough antique-style finish. Known for its outstanding craftsmanship, design and appeal, handmade antique jewellery creates a legacy. Combine these with Kundan stones and you have a grand piece that is exclusive, rich and timeless. The latest trend also includes oxidized jewellery with Kundan.
Antique designs have truly made a comeback. Choose your individual style and be assured to remain trendy for times to come!