The story of jewellery in India goes back about as far as the story of the actual people does. Ever since humans first made their way to the Indian subcontinent, they seem to have found novel ways to decorate themselves with whatever they could find. As each wave of immigration, emigration, conquerors, and empires have come and gone, these styles of jewellery have developed and changed with the cultures of the times. Nowadays, Indian jewellery is prized for its beautiful history as well as its exquisite intricacy. So let’s take a trip down memory lane and see how it got to where it is today!
The earliest physical traces of Indian jewellery that we can still see today date to around 5,000 years ago, in sites which belonged to the Indus Valley Civilisation, which unsurprisingly flourished on the banks of the Indus River. These very early designs were simple in material and style, made from simple beads and string, with the occasional pretty stone thrown in. It is only towards the end of the Indus Valley Civilisation that we begin to see the first uses of metal in jewellery, and more importantly the emergence of gold as a prized metal. The earliest found touchstone, a stone used to test the purity of gold by scraping tiny lines which can be compared in colour to other purities, dates to around 3,000 years ago.
Around 1500 BC we also see the arrival of the Indo-Aryan peoples who take control of much of northern India and begin to mix with the natives. This mixing between the two peoples is key to Indian society as it brought about the birth of Hinduism as we know it and would later lead to the establishment of Buddhism and Jainism too. At the same time jewellery came to have a much more religious and spiritual meaning to it. Stones began to be associated with specific gods and would bring with them power when worn. As trade with other parts of the world became more established more and more varieties of gem came to India and were made into stunning jewellery by the artisans who already had the expertise of generations behind them.
As BC became AD (or CE if you prefer), India was already a producer of jewellery that was being exported up and down the old Silk Road to the nobles of Ancient Rome, Persia and China. The gems and metals worked in India were seen as exotic and were very expensive to import across a route that would have taken months to travel for a merchant, and which wasn’t always safe from unscrupulous bandits or the like. That’s why Indian jewellery was mostly limited to the extremely wealthy who could afford gems from halfway around the world. This state remained for much of the Classical period, as much of India was more occupied with the rise and fall of empires than with developing new jewellery designs.
All of our gemstones are ethically sourced from India
It was the arrival of the Muslim Mughal dynasty that brought the next major development, as the Islamic empires of the Medieval period had become experts in jewellery design in their own right. The Indian artisans welcomed this new technology and were able to bring new levels of intricacy and design to Indian jewellery. The styles brough East from the Mughal homeland of Central Asia were also combined with the existing designs to create the aesthetic we are familiar with today. Symmetry also became very important to Indian jewellery during this period, as it was meant to symbolise a oneness with the world and the sacred geometry within the universe.
All of our birthstone jewellery is lovingly handmade in India
During the colonial period, the powers of Europe saw the exquisite designs of India and designers like Louis Cartier (of Cartier fame) began to take inspiration from them. Cartier’s famous “Tutti Frutti” jewels were inspired by the floral patterns found in some Indian jewellery. In the other direction, the Maharajas and Maharanis of India began to import fine European jewellery which increased the popularity of simpler and more understated designs. This mix of styles continued into the modern period as traditional jewellery remains complex and symbolic while new styles tend to prefer a simpler but more efficient design.
Our talented India artisans produce every piece by hand using traditional handcrafting techniques that have been passed down through the generations
We’re so proud to be able to work with some of the finest artisan in India, who are able to mix the styles of traditional Indian jewels with modern international taste to create some exquisite designs. Many of our jewels and metals are sourced in India, and are lovingly handmade by talented Indian jewellers, making every item just as unique as the person who wears it. To explore the amazing work of our artisans, head over to our jewellery collection which can be found here