Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Kundan - Meena


India is a country known for its diverse forms of art and craft. This is one of the biggest factors that draws a lot of attention from the west. International designers constantly draw inspiration from our rich cultural heritage.

Jewelry is one such field which exquisitely reflects our majestic legacy. Various jewelry arts like kundan - meena, pachchikam, jadau etc have represented our royal treasures for centuries together. This post will bring to you one such unique jewelry art – Kundan – Meena.

KUNDAN MEENA JEWELRY


Kundan literally means pure gold and Meena refers to the enamelling work which is done on the reverse side of the jewelry.  In this technique silver foil backing is given to the stones and pure gold (24 K) is pressed between stone and its mount to elevate the look of the gems. Usually polki, emeralds, rubies and garnets are used to create kundan jewelry.

This art form took birth in Rajasthan. Jaipur and Bikaner were the two places where skilled craftsmen practised the art to perfection. The Mughal and Rajasthani royalty were adorned with Kundan – Meena jewelry. It flourished in the rule of the Mughals and is till date making a fashion statement.

MUGHAL RULERS ADORNED WITH KUNDAN MEENA JEWELRY

Captivating jewelry is created with this style, however the process is elaborate and labor intensive. It involves a series of steps to accomplish the desired results.

First and foremost, according to the design provided a basic frame is created using thin metal strips. These metal strips are soldered on to a metal back to create compartmets. After putting the design together,  heated natural resin or laakh is poured into the compartments. Laakh  is what holds the gem in the setting.

FRAMEWORK

In the next step designs are engraved on the reverse side to fill in the enamel. Powdered colored glass/enamel is filled in the engraved areas and heated to fuse the enamel on the metal. Enamelling is a tedious job and requires a lot of scrubbing and finishing.

MEENAKARI 

Thereafter, the gems are given a silver backing to enhance their beauty. Now, these gems are pressed on to the laakh which was previously poured in the compartments. The gaps between the stone and its mount is filled in by pressing pure gold strips. This detailing with gold is what makes this technique stand out.

GOLD STRIPS PRESSED IN MOUNTS

Kundan – Meena is not just a form of jewelery decoration but also a representative of our glorious past. It symbolises eternal beauty, wealth and power. This tradition has been passed down from one generation to another and it has the potential to go on for many more.





*The Author is a Colored Stone Graduate from Gemological Institute of America, Mumbai and a Diamond Graduate from Solitaire Diamond Institute, Bangalore. She also holds a Diploma in Jewelry Designing & Manufacturing from Jewelry Product Development Centre, Jaipur. She also blogs at 'The Jewel Affair'

*Picture Courtesy: Google Images