checks out Kundan designs and inspirations.
of the oldest forms of jewellery made and worn in India is the 24
carat pure gold Kundan jewellery. Kundan work is a method of gem
setting, consisting of inserting gold foil between the stones and
it's mount. Kundan jewellery received great patronage during the
Mughal era and the most beautiful pieces were created in those
How is it done?
The jewellery piece is first shaped by specialized craftsmen
(and soldered together if the shape is complicated). Holes are cut
for the precious stones like diamond, emeralds or rubies, any
engraving or chasing is carried out, and the pieces are enamelled.
When the stones are to be set, lac is inserted in the back, and is
then visible in the front through the holes. Highly refined gold,
the kundan, is then used to cover the lac and the stone is pushed
into the kundan. More kundan is applied around the edges to
strengthen the setting and give it a neat appearance. This was the
only form of setting for stones in gold until claw settings were
introduced under the influence of western jewellery in the
Kundan work is combined with enameling, Meenakari, so that a piece
of jewelry has two equally beautiful surfaces, enamel at the back
end and Kundan set gems in the front. Meenakari involves the fusion
of colored minerals, such as cobalt oxide for blue, copper oxide for
green. This, on the surface of the metal, gives the effect of
precious stone inlay work. The particular mode employed is known as
Champleve where the metal is engraved or chased in such a way as to
provide depressions within which the colors can be embedded. The
colors are applied in order of the hardness those requiring more
heat first and those requiring less heat later.
Tips for Buying
Old, solid gold
ornaments are sometimes filled with shellac. It is important to
determine this in order to not be overcharged.
In trying to
differentiate between an old and a new minakari piece, remember
that the older the piece, the more intricate the design and more
brilliant the colour.
imperfections in a diamond, look for tiny, rents or fissures and
specks. If the diamond has any of these, it is flawed. Note also
that a real diamond can never have scratches on its surface, if
it does, it is not a diamond.
crystal has a mellow, opaque appearance. Artificial kundan-set
crystal is transparent and it glitters. This is due to the fact
that glass has been used instead of crystal and colored tinfoil
under the stones to create the illusion of color.
New cord in an
old piece should not make the buyer suspicious. It could have
been replaced to hold the ornament together.
Here are some tips on how to take good care of your Kundan
the jewellery after use, wipe it with a suede cloth to restore
If space is an
issue, place the jewellery in between layers of cotton wool and
seal it in a good plastic bag.
Do not clean
the jewellery with soap and water.
Keep a pouch of
desiccant with the piece to protect it from tarnishing due to
excessive humidity. Dampness causes the silver in the setting to
tarnish and the enamel to crack.
Handle the silk
chord used to
adjust the length of the necklace with care. Never wet the chord
as it causes the zari in it to discolour.
Lately designers have started using uncut diamonds/ colored glass or
crystals as embellishments in sarees, lehengas and accessories like
handbags and shoes. This is called “Kundan Work” as it involves
embroidery with stones set in metal surround and looks similar to