India has more than 5000 years of jewelry craft that has metamorphosed exquisitely across its many regions. India’s traditional, antique, bridal and tribal jewelry are in huge demand worldwide and jewelry connoisseurs, as well as consumers, have acknowledged Indian jewelry as one of the finest in the world.
No one can deny that Indian jewelry is varied, exquisite and unique. Just a look at the weddings across ethnicities in India can lead to awe and wonderment when witnessing the splendour and artistry of Indian bridal jewelry across traditions and cultures.
The craftsmanship, the motifs, the aesthetics and most of all, the diversity in design and style makes Indian jewelry stunning. Let’s take a look at different jewelry styles and iconic ornaments from various states of India.
1. Rajasthani Jewelry – the royal affair
The resplendent and stately Rajasthani jewelry traditions are seen in its traditional jewelry styles of Kundankari, Polki, Meenakari, Jadau and Thewa. Historically, the local design styles flourished under the royal patronage of the Mughals & the Rajputanas, and in the modern day, the state’s jewelry and gem work have gained a unique place in the culture of India.
- Borla is a unique type of Rajasthani ‘maang tikka’ that is shaped like a bell. Worn during all occasions, the Borla signifies the power of the third eye.
- Aad is a neck-fitting choker that is square in shape, worn during special occasions.
- Bajubandh is an armlet that is worn with traditional outfits and sarees.
- Rajwadi Kadas are broad cuffs that are made of intricate, royalty-themed design.
2. Gujarati jewelry – The tribal fare
Even though Gujarat is famous for its traditional gold, diamond and Kundan jewelry which are bridal mandates, the jewelry of Gujarat truly shines in its tribal avatar.
During the annual Navratri festival, women adorn themselves in elaborate silver and metal tribal jewelry made with colourful stones and artwork that are mesmerising.
- Rabari Necklace is a unique tribal white metal/ silver rounded, loose-fitting choker worn by the ethnic rabari tribe.
- Kandola is a gorgeous waistband that is worn on traditional sarees or chaniya cholis to adorn the attire.
3. Bengali jewelry – Elegance Galore
Lavish when called for, Bengali jewelry styles are mostly understated and artistic, much like the zeitgeist of its culture. Heirloom pieces are of tremendous significance in the homes of Bengal. Traditional and antique gold and diamond jewelry are preferred during weddings, while minimal and simple styles are preferred on casual days.
- Kaan is a legendary earring style that is literally shaped like an ear. They are decorative earrings worn during weddings and important functions.
- Chud is another superb style of big cuff bracelet or kada that has exquisite design and detail. They are symbolic of wealth and beauty.
4. Tamil Jewelry – Forever Gold
Traditional, antique and temple jewelry made in gold, ruby and gemstones is a standard style preferred by women of Tamil Nadu. Typical motifs are peacock, elephant, fish, and images of gods and goddesses.
- Vanki is a special inverted V-shaped armlet that is made with intricate gold patterns and precious stones. It symbolises snake worship.
- Oddiyanam is an elaborate waistband made of solid gold and traditional patterns and is worn to hold up the saree.
- Kasumala is a coin necklace with Lakshmi insignia representing wealth and prosperity and comes in different sizes.
- Jhimkis are chandelier shaped earrings which were originally introduced in temple jewelry style.
5. Assamese jewelry – Eclectic Assortment
The jewelry of Assam is distinct and stands out in terms of style. It is mostly handmade and nature-themed – depicting flora and fauna and is sometimes inspired by objects such as a drum. It’s quirky and uncommon. Most of these design styles are only found in the state of Assam and nowhere else.
- Jon Biri is a half-moon shaped necklace worn by the traditional and modern women of Assam.
- Loka Paro is a charming necklace set that is inspired by pigeons and is made with colourful stones and beads. It is a bridal as well as fashion jewelry.
- Kharu is chunky bracelet cuffs that are made of gold and can be simple or embellished. Kharu can resemble trendy gold cuffs, a jewelry must-have for women world over.
6. Maharashtrian jewelry – Traditional Yet Trendy
Traditional Marathi jewelry entails gold and pearl artistry and is quite similar to South Indian jewelry in style. Maharashtrian three-layered gold beaded Mohan Mala and Kolhapuri Saaj made of 21 pendants are famous the world over.
- Pearl Nath is a type of nose ring (made of a group of pearls around a centre stone) women typically wear during weddings or traditional functions.
- Thushi is a 22k gold necklace tied with an adjustable rope-like string and made of gold beads, worn during occasions or celebrations.
7. Odisha jewelry – Ancient and Artistic
The jewelry of Odisha is famous for its tribal elements and heritage influences. Odisha is renowned for Tarakasi jewelry which involves a highly skilled silver filigree workmanship over 500 years old.. Odissi dancers wear Tarakasi jewelry during their performances and the style is popular among contemporary women of the region.
- Bela Kanta is a special ear ornament that is shaped like a flower.
- Dhokra necklace is a tribal coin necklace made by artisans of Odisha using an ancient wax and wet mud technique.
8. Andhra Pradesh jewelry – A Nizami Penchant
Hyderabad is famous for its pearls, diamonds and precious gems. The former Nizams of Hyderabad encouraged pearl jewelry craftsmen from the Gulf to settle in Hyderabad, making it a hub for the world’s finest pearl jewelry. Hyderabadi diamond jewelry is the stuff of legends.
- Chand Bali is a pair of earrings shaped like two crescent moons, studded with diamonds, pearls and precious stones. They can be worn on modern or traditional outfits.
- Paizaab is elaborate anklets made with diamonds, pearls, rubies, and other precious stones on gold-foiled panels.
- Jhoomar is a fan-shaped maang tikka worn by brides made with polki diamonds and pearls.
Every state of India has its own definitive jewelry style and traditions, each lovelier than the last.
I’m Surbhi, a writer based in Hyderabad, India, with interests and writing experience spanning across industries. Over the past decade, I have written for established publications on a variety of subjects like fashion and jewelry trends, health, digital marketing, business etc. Diversity across various categories helps broadens my vision and make me learn more about my writing.