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India's impressive history of jewellery craftsmanship

June 03, 2019 2 min read

artisan's hands at jewellery bench

 

They say it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert – and in the case of Indian jewellers, you can also add generations of family knowledge and the power of mythology. With a legacy of 5,000 years, the history of jewellery and its artisans in India has often been quoted as the history of the country itself. For 2,000 years India was the sole exporter of gems. It was also the Indians who invented the diamond drill which they then taught to the Romans. And in modern day India, there are an astounding five to six million jewellers who contribute a total of 7% to the country’s GDP.

In fact, jewellery is so important to India that jewellers arguably transcend India’s caste system. Instead of being defined by their place or status of birth, they belong to the Vishwakarma caste, a special caste of craftsmen who some consider to be on a par with the priest caste of Brahmans. In recognition of their skills, they are named after the deity Vishwakarma, who according to Hindu mythology is the creative power that holds the universe together and who is the original architect and divine engineer of the universe.

And it is no wonder, given their almost vast array of talents that Indian jewellers are held in such high regard. Indian jewellery has historically been characterised by some of the finest handwork that requires painstaking attention to detail. So fine is their work, that every State in India has its own special style of crafting – from lace-like filigree in Gujarat, to glittering cut stones in Bengal, to vibrant Kundan jewellery combining diamond, gold and enamel created in Rajasthan.

Indian jewellers also have a demanding customer base that far exceeds Western standards. With a love of opulent jewellery that is associated with the Maharajahs, Indian men are proud wearers of some of the most extravagent jewellery. And religion and tradition has played a large part in the amazing breadth of jewellery worn by women, often as a reflection of status as well as for good fortune. It is no surprise then, that Indian jeweller's craftsmanship and expertise knows no bounds - from crowns, waist belts, nose rings and nath chains (chains that connect your nose ring to your hair) to finger rings, necklaces and anklets, the array of choices is breathtaking.

With her own family history in India, Brave Edith founder, Stephanie Sieber, is fortunate to partner with one of India’s leading jewellery firms. It is through such skills Brave Edith jewellery is made with outstanding attention to detail, using a mixture of fine hand skills and industry leading technology.


View Brave Edith jewellery


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