The Indian subcontinent has the longest continuous legacy of jewellery making with a history of over 5,000 years. The people of the Indus Valley Civilization were the first to explore the craft of jewellery making, and their skill and craft are renowned around the world to this day.
Artisans from the Indus Valley Civilization used semi-precious materials such as turquoise, agate, carnelian, feldspar, steatite, etc. to make jewellery. A necklace excavated from the ancient city of Mohenjo-Daro is lined with pendants of banded agate and jade beads suspended by a thick gold wire that passes through each bead. The necklace is now on display in the jewellery gallery of the National Museum in Delhi.
Jewellery is amongst the most commonly found relic of the Harappan society. One of the most well-known artefacts of that period is the bronzed Dancing Girl of Mohenjo-Daro wearing a necklace and a series of bangles almost covering one arm.
The jewellery culture in India is as rich and as diverse as the people of India. Jewellery fulfils different needs in India, an aesthetic need, and the need to symbolise power, prosperity and prestige in society.
Indian jewellery also plays an integral part in traditional Indian dance forms. Classical dancers are adorned in exquisite jewellery. Indian women wear jewelry on several parts of their body, ranging from their hair, forehead, ears, nose, neck, arms, hands, and toes, to their legs.
Today, jewellery is one of the important parts of an Indian wedding. An Indian bride’s makeup is considered incomplete without her ‘solah shringar’ which consists of all the pieces of jewellery that are essential to be adorned by a bride. Gold is symbolic of purity, prosperity and good fortune in India, and therefore brides receive gold jewellery as a token of blessings from their family.
India is the largest consumer of gold in the world, followed by China and Japan. India consumes nearly 700 tonnes of gold that accounts for 20 per cent of world gold consumption.