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Kundan is Hot >> checks out Kundan designs and inspirations.

One 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 times.

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 nineteenth century.

Often 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 Kundan Jewelry

  • 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.

  • To identify 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.

  • Genuine kundan-set 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.

Kundan care
Here are some tips on how to take good care of your Kundan Jewellery.

  • When replacing the jewellery after use, wipe it with a suede cloth to restore its shine.

  • 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.

Kundan Inspiration
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 Kundan jewellery.


Shruti Sharma