Antique things make the heart beat with the memories of times past and so does the antique jewellery. Jewellery pieces that are more than 100 years old and have witnessed human evolution throughout the history are, generally, known as antique jewellery. Antique jewellery can also mean jewellery that has had previous owners as well as jewellery designs created using the techniques or styles of the past era. Indians have a great fascination with antique jewellery as they tell the story of Indian history. They have a great appreciation for the art and craftsmanship involved in the making of jewellery.
Antique jewellery is one of the most appreciated jewellery types in the jewellery market due to its antiquated, rusty appearance, high level of expertise involved in making the jewellery and high-quality gemstones used. Antique jewellery used to be a symbol of a person’s social status, affluence and class that he belonged in the past. Royal families used to pride themselves on their extensive jewellery collections. With the introduction of antique imitation jewellery in the market, owning jewellery rooted in Indian heritage has become possible for everyone. Antique jewellery can be considered normal jewellery that depicts ancient culture. With this guide, you will come across various details of antique jewellery that have made it an indispensable part of the jewellery industry.
Origin of Indian Antique Jewellery
There is no end to curiosity among jewellery buyers who want to know the roots of antique Indian jewellery due to its high-end precision and craftsmanship. The origin of Indian antique jewellery dates back to 1500 BC, during the time of the Indus valley civilization. The Mughal era was the peak time that contributed to the popularity of owning and wearing jewellery. In the Mughal times, all high-ranking people used to wear heavy jewellery which was designed from precious metals as well as precious stones like diamonds, pearls, rubies, sapphire, topaz, jade, etc to give it a royal look.
No doubt, the roots of antique jewellery make it special but it is the expert craftsmanship involved in antique jewellery makes it extraordinary. The intricate detailing and finish that comes in antique jewellery after various stages of handicraft can't be achieved even with high precision machines. This is something that sets antique jewellery apart from other jewellery pieces. The craftsmanship associated with antique jewellery in the olden days was quite sophisticated because it was designed by highly skilled artists for the royal families. Therefore, you will only come across royal and ethnic designs in antique jewellery.
The Craft behind Antique Jewellery
Crafting antique jewellery is not an easy task. It requires a lot of time, expertise and patience to craft a single piece of antique jewellery. Moreover, different expert artisans are needed at different stages of making antique jewellery as each stage requires a pro in that task. For example, if we talk about Meenakari, then it passes through a chain of 7 craftsmen before reaching completion. Firstly, it is designed by naquash, then goes to sonar and kalamkar. After these three craftsmen complete their work, the jewellery design goes to meenakar, ghotnawala, and jadia for setting the stones in the jewellery. Once all these 6 craftsmen complete their work, the jewellery is passed to patua who checks the designed jewellery for any changes and final touches. So, crafting antique jewellery is a labour-intensive process and requires a lot of patience and hard work to complete.
This extensive process of crafting antique jewellery made it very costly. Moreover, in the earlier times, antique jewellery was designed from precious metals like gold, silver, and platinum which were way beyond the means of the common man. It was only designed for the royal families. So, to make antique jewellery accessible to all, antique imitation jewellery was made from copper, alpaca, iron, and aluminium. This made antique imitation jewellery not only affordable to everyone but also retained the royal look of the original antique jewellery. Moreover, antique imitation jewellery has also increased the accessibility of the jewellery so you can adorn it with your attire without having any second thoughts.
Apart from the level of expertise involved in the making process, every antique jewellery has a great source of inspiration behind its design. The most popular inspiration behind antique jewellery designs is to showcase the history and heritage of the country through the means of jewel pieces. In antique jewellery, every design has its own story to communicate. Different antique jewellery pieces can depict different periods of historical significance. Besides that, you can clearly see the hard work and patience invested by the craftsmen to craft a single piece of antique jewellery with amazing precision. This will even help you understand why there are very few expert antique jewel craftsmen in the market. So, once you start falling for antique jewellery, there is no going back.
Cost of Antique Jewellery
Talking about the earlier times, antique jewellery was designed with much precision and hard work. Therefore, it required a lot of money to create a single piece of jewellery. Also, antique jewellery was made from expensive precious metals making it quite costly and, thus, unaffordable for many. With the introduction of antique imitation jewellery in the market, the prices have substantially decreased. Nowadays, you can get antique jewellery in the range of INR 1,000 to approximately INR 40,000. This has increased the accessibility of antique jewellery and anyone can possess it.
With this affordable price range of antique imitation jewellery, you can buy the designs of your choice. Antique jewellery pieces go perfectly with ethnic outfits like sarees, salwar suits, lehengas, etc. making them highly suitable for festive occasions. Nowadays, many have also started pairing antique jewellery with their everyday outfits but, a word of caution to those newly introduced to this jewellery type – be very careful while pairing antique jewellery with western outfits so that you don’t look overwhelmed or overdressed. Go for understated and simple jewellery pieces while trying them out with everyday wear or western outfits.
Many people wonder if there is any need to invest in antique jewellery or why to invest in antique jewellery. Well, antique jewellery is known for its uniqueness and has a beautiful story associated with it. With antique imitation jewellery designed with copper, iron, or aluminium, affordability has increased. By investing a small amount in different styles of antique jewellery, you can make your wardrobe versatile and suited to different occasions. You should invest in antique jewellery because of the different style statements you can make for different occasions. All these aspects will collectively encourage you to invest in antique jewellery and get a royal and aesthetic feeling.
Antique vs Vintage Jewellery
There is a thin line of difference between antique and vintage jewellery. Most people consider both as similar but there is a slight difference between them. The jewellery that was made 50-100 years ago is considered vintage jewellery. Whereas, jewellery that was made at least 100 years ago is considered antique jewellery. Except for this aspect, there is no major difference between antique and vintage jewellery as both of them were designed with utmost hard work and perseverance. Antique jewellery designs are mostly focused on the decade from which they came. For example, if the designs were made during the Georgian Era (1714-1837) then they depicted the Industrial revolution and how the few delicate jewellery pieces survived that era while the most recent art deco jewellery designs made during the 1920-1935 period hold the influences of the World War I where women had worked alongside men leading to fashion becoming more mature and fuss-free as well as a lot of Egyptian influence due to the discovery of Tutankhamen’s tomb in 1922.
Types of Antique Jewellery
Antique jewellery comes in various types and to choose the right one for your needs, you have to be well-acquainted with different types of antique jewellery. Different jewellery designs have something unique to depict that makes them stand apart from others in the market. Some of the most common types of antique jewellery are listed below:
1. Temple Jewellery
Antique temple jewellery originated in the 9th century. It was designed in the form of Gods and Goddesses. Earlier, only precious metals like gold, rubies, and diamonds were used in making temple jewellery. Nowadays, you can even get this jewellery in silver, copper, bronze, etc.
2. Oxidized Jewellery
Oxidized jewellery is designed with silver metal which is intentionally oxidized to give a strong black finish called patina. It is an attractive piece of jewellery that goes perfectly with your traditional attire.
Tarakashi is a unique kind of antique jewellery that was designed in Orissa around the 1500s. It is inspired by nature and has a unique combination of utility and beauty. You will find most of the Tarakashi designs in the form of flora and fauna.
Thewa jewellery came into existence in the 16th century in parts of Rajasthan and Gujarat. The very first design was made by an enterprising goldsmith named Nathu Lal Sonewal. Soon after that, this jewellery design became famous during the reign of Maharaja Sumant Singh.
Meenakari is a highly intensive form of making jewellery that was introduced in the times of Raja Mansingh. The jewellery piece is usually kept on lac sticks while the designs are being formed so that it can be properly heated for the next stages. It is beautifully designed antique jewellery.
Kundan jewellery came into existence in the 19th century in the royal courts of Gujarat and Rajasthan. This jewellery focuses on the extravagant usage of stones to get a royal ethnic look.
Pachchikam antique jewellery originated from the Kutch of Gujarat. This antique jewellery is made with soft and shimmery metals like platinum and silver.
8. Tribal Jewellery
Tribal jewellery is one of the most unique and aesthetic kinds of jewellery available in India. The ethnic communities were responsible for preserving the authenticity of this jewellery. It is primarily designed with simple earthy materials like bone, wood, shells, clay, etc.
The Popularity of Antique Jewellery among Celebrities
Antique jewellery is very popular among Hollywood and Bollywood celebrities. Several celebrities are seen on the red carpet adorned in antique jewellery. With the introduction of antique imitation jewellery, different antique jewellery designs are available to choose from while shopping for a distinctive look. No doubt, celebrities have the money to buy jewellery designed with precious metals. But, with imitation jewellery, they need not worry about the loss or theft of their jewellery. This gives an edge to antique imitation jewellery.
Why buy Antique Jewellery?
Antique jewellery holds a special place in Indian history. Diamond jewellery has ruled the jewellery market for decades. Nowadays, the scenario has changed a lot in the market and people are choosing antique jewellery over diamond jewellery. Here are 5 top reasons to buy antique jewellery over diamond jewellery:
- Each antique jewellery depicts a story from history that connects the wearer with the past. Diamond jewellery does not have such a deep connection to the past.
- Designing antique jewellery is environment-friendly because it doesn't involve extensive levels of mining that are responsible for air pollution.
- Antique jewellery designs are quite unique when compared to diamond jewellery designs. Even if you find similar designs in antique jewellery. there will always be a slight difference in the designs due to the handicraft involved in their making.
- Antique jewellery catches the eye of the people around you because they have highly intricate designs and act as a style statement
- Antique jewellery is sustainable because it is created in an eco-friendly manner and if you are buying antique jewellery then you are acting as a conservator for nature.
Women prefer to buy antique imitation jewellery because it is affordable, accessible, and comes in high quality. Moreover, antique jewellery offers a wide range of designs that women can easily pair with different types of attires. If women have antique jewellery in their wardrobe, they can easily wear this jewellery for different occasions be it family functions or some official parties. So, this is a one-time investment that women make to have a versatile wardrobe without having to invest heavily in lieu of acquiring multiple jewellery designs.
How to Shop the Right Antique Jewellery?
Shopping for the right kind of antique jewellery for the right occasion is quite a time-consuming task. You can't just wear any antique jewellery piece for different occasions. Some occasions may require heavy antique jewellery designs to suit the attire while others may call for an understated minimalistic look.
So, if you want to shop for antique bridal jewellery for your big day, go for the heavy antique necklace with flora or fauna motifs. In addition to that, you can complete the look with antique kadas and bangles that will give you a royal touch for your big day and every eye will be on you.
If you want to shop for antique jewellery for western dresses, you can go for antique earrings, simple antique necklaces and antique rings. These are minimalistic yet elegant essentials for your western dresses that will look good at official parties. On the other hand, you can even choose minimal antique necklaces for ethnic dresses. This will help you complete your look for the desired occasion without making you look overdressed.
Maintenance of Antique Jewellery
Maintaining antique jewellery is as important as possessing it. To increase the longevity of antique jewellery, it is very important to keep it safe and clean. Long exposure to sun, rain or dust can compromise the shelf life of your antique jewellery. Also, rough handling or hard scrubbing of your jewellery can make it lose its distinctive appearance. Below are the steps that you can use to maintain your antique jewellery.
- Make a warm soapy solution and dip the antique jewellery in the solution.
- Once the antique jewellery is kept immersed in water for some time, use a soft-bristled toothbrush to clean the antique jewellery.
- After cleaning, use a soft cloth to dry it properly. This will make your antique jewellery clean.
Safely stored antique jewellery seldom requires cleaning. You can do so by keeping your jewellery pieces separately. This will prevent antique jewellery from getting scratched. Ideally, use a jewellery box to keep your antique jewellery safe and you can cover it with a soft cloth for further protection.
Even if you properly care for your antique jewellery, there are chances that it can turn black. The major reason for antique jewellery turning black is regular exposure of the surfaces to soap and lotion. If you notice your antique jewellery turning black, then make an ammonia solution and dip your jewellery in that solution. Scrub the jewellery gently and rinse thoroughly with warm water. Dry the jewellery using a soft cloth to get back the lost charm of the antique jewellery. If you are still not able to get rid of the black texture then you can take the assistance of a professional jeweller.
Interesting Facts about Antique Jewellery
Some lesser-known facts about antique jewellery that you may find interesting are:
- Antique jewellery has excellent value in the market
- Antique jewellery is incredibly desirable in the market because of its impeccable designing
- Antique jewellery offers authenticity with well-made designs
- Antique jewellery acts as a style statement for all occasions
Antique Jewellery Alternatives
Antique jewellery designed with expensive metals is not affordable for everyone. Only the affluent ones can go for it. To offer a wide range of accessibility to common people in the form of antique imitation jewellery, the cost has been substantially reduced. You can easily grab antique imitation jewellery within the price range of INR 1,000 and INR 40,000 approximately.
Nowadays, Various alternatives to antique jewellery are available as well. Some of the prominent alternatives are kundan, jadau, polki, etc. These are only a few names to quote but other options are also available in the market.
Factors to Consider Before Buying Antique Jewellery
Buying antique jewellery is an investment that you should make judiciously. No matter whether you are a novice or a pro at buying antique jewellery, there are several factors that you should keep in mind before buying it. Some of the important ones are discussed below:
- Before buying antique jewellery, make sure that you are entering a reputable store. This will give you the assurance that you are paying for what you are buying. So, before going to a store make sure that you research it thoroughly.
- Make sure that you are well-versed with the material used in antique jewellery. This will give you an edge in the sense that the shopkeeper can't deceive you into buying cheap stuff and you can ensure that you are paying for the material that you want.
- Before buying antique jewellery, do complete research on the designs being made in the antique jewellery. This will help you understand what you are buying and whether it is worth the price or not.
- Check the setting of different stones in the antique jewellery so you have a clear idea about the era from which it has been imitated.
Antique jewellery has come a long way since traditional times. It originated in different eras and brings a special message with each jewellery piece. You will get acquainted with the history and how each antique jewellery piece is created with so much precision and hard work. Nowadays, you can get the antique imitation jewellery in affordable price range of INR 1,000 to INR 40,000. This has made antique jewellery way more accessible and affordable.If you have been looking for a jewellery piece to equip your wardrobe then antique jewellery is the best-suited one. It will go with all types of attires on every occasion. With the affordable price range, you can buy antique jewellery in various designs making it a daily wear item as well. So, it is just the right time to grab antique jewellery to suffice your needs. Make sure that you go through all the factors that you must keep in mind before buying antique jewellery to help in your decision-making process. Also, make sure to keep a proper track of cleaning and safeguarding your antique jewellery. This will further increase the longevity of your jewellery. So, why not have it today and enrich your wardrobe with pieces of history?