The significance of Bridal Jewelry made and owned in India extends beyond the realm of personal adornment to encompass social customs and craft practices as well as stylistic and technical developments. Indian Bridal Jewelry is both utilitarian and a distinct marker of social status. Bridal Jewelry Sets are often personalized with engraved inscriptions or monograms that help to tell its story. The history of jewelry in India illuminates international trade practices, for although many objects were made in this country, others were imported from abroad. Exotic materials in particular, such as coral, helmet conch shell, and diamonds, could often be acquired only from afar.
The Indian Bridal Jewelry industry gradually grew from small workshops to large factories and from handcrafts man ship to increasingly mechanized production. By the mid-nineteenth century, Indian jewelers were able to supply their patrons with a wide range of objects, including gold and silver jewelry and medals; hair jewelry to memorialize or honor a loved one and brooch-and-earring sets inspired by French or English models. Seed pearl jewelry) became fashionable during the Federal period, particularly as gifts to a bride. This jewelry, made from hundreds of tiny pearls imported from China, remained popular into the early twentieth century.
At times the jewelry industry has benefited from scientific developments, made from India rubber treated with sulfur; Vulcanite provided a durable and practical substitute for imported tortoiseshell. Diamond jewelry became very popular during the nineteenth century, spurred by growing prosperity and increased supplies worldwide. Colored gemstones were also highly prized. Late-century jewelry designs, including Egyptian and Renaissance revivals, reflect contemporary interest in historical styles. During the 1880s, a fashion arose for jewelry made from ancient coins or for die-stamped silver discs imitating coins. The centuries-old process of die-stamping was both efficient and affordable, and silver became more readily available to Americans following the discovery in 1859 of the Com stock Lode in Nevada.
At the end of the nineteenth century, jewelry designers were embracing the Art Nouveau style with its interest in natural and asymmetrical forms. More humble materials, such as enamels, opals, moonstones, and baroque pearls, replaced diamonds and precious stones. One of the most talented and experimental artists of the period, Louis Comfort Tiffany, turned his attention to jewelry design around 1904, producing exquisite creations inspired by nature. Developing alongside Art Nouveau was the English-born Arts and Crafts movement, which strove to revive handcraftsmanship in an era of increased machine production. Somewhat less free-spirited than Art Nouveau designers, proponents of the Arts and Crafts aesthetic shared their passion for nature, modest materials, and artistic freedom. Although these design movements waned after World War I, Americans’ enthusiasm for handcrafted jewelry remains to this day.
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