Jewellery in India is an art form in itself – the captivating designs, the glitz, the artistry and the variety. Few other types of jewellery design techniques display these wonderful qualities as much as Meenakari work. While most other jewellery serves as a finishing touch on colourful Indian wear, Meenakari jewellery is a burst of colour in itself. Eye-catching and pretty this jewellery form is a favourite among Indian women across the country and goes beautifully with both traditional attire like sarees or can add a unique ethnic touch to Western clothes as well.
This centuries old art form and its resultant artists who were known as meenkars, was kind of another Mughal era import. Raja Man Singh of Amber introduced or rather facilitated the fine art of Meenakari craftsmanship in the state of Rajasthan. He brought over talented craftsmen from Lahore’s Mughal palaces to Jaipur around the 16th century and this jewellery craft soon flourished in this Indian city. The popularity of Meenakri both in ornaments and handicrafts has grown ever since and Jaipur has become a hub for Meenakari jewellery.
Meenakari jewellery makers need to be very skilled since it is an intricate step by step process that requires a high level of craftsmanship. Meenakari work basically involves the decorating of the piece of metal or metal jewellery with vibrant enamel work and with a lac base in a myriad of colours and gorgeous designs. Designs are engraved on the piece and the enamel is then brushed onto these engraved depressions in a fixed order depending on the colour of the enamel and how it lays and hardens. Designs with flowers, birds, animals and other delicate details are common. You will also find meenakari work accented with stones, beads and crystals resulting in some gorgeous pieces of jewellery in a rainbow of colours. Meenakari jewellery can be found in various colour schemes ranging from a single colour palette often used to match to a bridal trousseau or a mix of different colours, also depending on whether it is used on a gold or silver coloured base.
This form of jewellery is not only popular in Rajasthan but favoured by many Indian brides around the country. The sheer variety of shades and design choices available make it easy to pair with intricate wedding fashion and the most opulent of outfits.
Stay tuned for our series on the different Indian wedding jewellery , only at Marry Me – Indian wedding planners. Write to us about your favourite pieces of Indian jewellery; we would love to hear from you!