India is famous over the world for its jewellery, and not without good reason. While Kundan and Jadau forms of jewellery have their origin with the Mughals, it is the skilled craftsmen in the courts of Rajasthan who perfected the art which has made it one of the most coveted jewellery styles today.
Jadau is very similar to Kundan, with only a slight difference in the process. Jad means to embed, which is what is done with the stones here. Just like in Kundan work, crevices are made in the gold sheets and then heated to make them pliable. When the gold reaches a particular temperature, the stones are set in very carefully. This process of setting stones is a very slow one, and takes an entire day to set in just a few.
While both the Kundan and Jadau forms of jewellery are extremely popular with Indian women because of their elegance and versatility, one has to be cautious of their purity while purchasing them. Firstly, always look for the BIS hallmark. This consists of the BIS logo, a three digit number that indicates the purity of the gold, the logo of the assaying center, a code that tells you the date of hallmarking and the logo or code of the jeweller. Another very easy method is the magnet test. Simply bring a magnet close to the jewellery. If the ornament is attracted to the magnet it is not real gold. Also, if you purchase a gold set and it changes colour (black/green) in a few weeks, then it is fake. With silver, it is the opposite. Silver will change colour weeks after wearing and become slightly blacker.
When it comes to pricing, a lot of factors affect the price of this kind of work, other than the craftsmanship that has gone into it. Traditionally, Kundan jewellery is made with 24 carat gold, and no other metal. Although, the use of glass and not diamonds, make it more affordable than polki. One should always ask for the weight of the gold separately from the stones used, especially in Jadau work which uses semi-precious stones, etc. Always ask for the purity and a guarantee from the jewellers for the stones used.
Once you know how to check the pricing and purity, you also need to be sure what occasion you need it for. As a bride looking for a wedding trousseau, an heirloom choker neckpiece set, just like you have seen on the maharanis of yore, will give you a regal bearing and grace in every step during your wedding. Interestingly, contemporary designs merge with traditional making methods to create fusion jewellery that works for parties and lighter occasions. Chaand baalis, rings, maang tikkas or bangles with Kundan and jadau work keep it light, yet the subtle glimmer makes your accessories stand out wherever you go.
Once you’re clear on all these aspects, you can go on a shopping spree for all the beautiful handcrafted ornaments you have been dreaming about!