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Hyderabad and Pearls: A Historical Romance

Besides its lip-smacking biryanis and its history of nawabs, the city of Hyderadad in India is best known for its pearls. The city has had a long association with these lustrous white gems. It’s a romance that extends to many centuries in the past. What is curious is the fact that Hyderabad is an inland city and there are no seas in the vicinity. Nonetheless, it has emerged over the years as the Pearl Capital of India. This has been made possible by the rich concentration of pearl traders and craftsmen in the region, many of whom had originally arrived generations ago when Hyderabad was a busy and prosperous business center and a seat for royalty.

The famed nawabs of Hyderabad, along with other members of the royalty and aristocracy, were known to have possessed a great love for pearls and were big patrons of pearl trade. They would often gift their begums fantastic pearl jewelry and would amass pearls of many different kinds to add to their own private collections. This practice had naturally encouraged pearl merchants from all over the land, especially the Arabian Gulf, to flock to this ancient Indian city in hope of finding a better market for their goods.

The pearl trade in Hyderabad has evolved tremendously over time. Today, one would find amazing creations in pearl jewelry that combine gold, diamond, rubies and emeralds with pearls. If you are a lover of traditional designs, take a walk down the narrow alleys of the Old City. You are likely to encounter many a craftsman, holding on to an age-old tradition of fine jewelry making, painstakingly giving shape to exquisite designs with meticulous care and unmatched affection.

Hyderabad has become synonymous with some popular jewelry designs of India such as the seven stringed necklace, known as the ‘Satlada’ and its five-stringed counterpart, the ‘Paanchlada’. These pearl necklaces often carry emeralds or onyx beads, set in nine carat gold for added glitter and beauty. ‘Karanphool’ and ‘Cholaphool’ are two other popular kinds of pearl earrings that carry uncut diamonds besides lustrous pearls.

Speaking of pearl jewelry of Hyderabad, one can’t help mention the breathtaking collection of bangles that one finds here. No pearl loving lady in the land can do without a pair of these special Hyderabad bangles. In fact such is their reputation and demand that one would find more than 400 shops around the famous Charminar selling bangles of every imaginable design, made by more than 2,500 skilled craftsmen working in the region.