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The art of Kundan work reached Rajasthan from Delhi during the reign of the Mughuls. Many craftsmen learnt this art and now Rajasthan is the heart of Kundan work. Many rulers were benefactors of this art form and nurtured it.
Handmade Kundan Jewelry
In the 19th century claw settings were introduced which made the work easier for craftsmen. Each piece of Kundan jewelry is done by different craftsmen. For example chiterias do the basic designing work, Ghaarias, do the work of enameling and embedding stones are done by Jadiyas and the goldsmith take care of the Kundan work. Jaipur, Nathdwara and Bikaner in Rajasthan are where kundan jewelry is still done today.
The art of Kundan jewelry making is one of the oldest forms of jewelry making called “Kundankari”. Here the jewels are made from 24 carat gold, embedded with stones on one side and minakari work on the reverse side to get beautiful surfaces on both the sides. Both gold and silver is used for this work. The whole skill set is setting stones and gems into gold which is solid in nature. Actually, holes are cut according to the size of gems like emerald, jade, agate, crystal, topaz, pearls, etc. and then lac which is a natural resin is inserted into the hollow and is made visible from the front and then the gems are inserted into the hole and are set on the lac. More Kundan is applied for durability and for a complete finish. Sometimes colors are added to lac to match the stones which gives an amazing look.
There are huge varieties of Kundan jewelry like earrings, armlets, bracelets, bangles, necklaces, chocker sets, nose rings, etc. Each piece of Kundan jewelry is handcrafted and is distinct from one another. The designs are absolute reproduction of the designs of the olden days.
While buying Kundan jewels one must take care of the stones used as at times glass are used along with color paper and it becomes hard to identify. The fillings must also be taken care as the original Kundan may be filled with shellac.
Care For Kundan Jewelry
Kundan jewels have to be given proper care to restore it for longer.
- It should be wiped with a suede cloth to retain its shine.
- The jewelry may be kept in a piece of cotton in a plastic bag if place is a constraint.
- The jewelry should not be cleaned with water and soap.
- As water is an affinity to Kundan jewelry, try placing a bag of silica gel or calcium oxide which keeps moisture away from the jewels. Moisture makes the jewelry crack or tarnishes the settings.
- The cord that is given for adjusting the length should also be handled with care.