Kundan – Meena Jewellery a Tribute to Goldsmiths and Stone Setters of the World

Mughlai Cuisine is not the only contribution of the Moguls’ that came into India centuries ago.

Kundan is a type of Jewellery made chiefly in Rajasthan and parts of Gujarat. One would be fascinated by it when the Fact that all of it is made of 24 Karat Gold 999 purity, well almost! It was introduced and developed by the then wealthy Royal families of the Moughl Dynasty.

Kundan Jewellery has three major components viz; 24 Karat Gold (Yellow), Precious and semi-precious Gemstones, including Flat Pieces of uncut Diamonds or Polqui as it is known today. During that Historic Time the Jewellery made had no settings such as Claw setting, Bezel Setting, Pave’ setting, Invisible setting etc were hitherto unknown and yet to be discovered and Lac.

A thin sheet of pure Gold, 999 purity was used as it was the most Pliable, Malleable metallic medium available for setting Precious and Semi-Precious stones. It consisted of pure gold metal sheet that were punched out or a depression (a small basin) made and a Gem stone inserted into those gaps. The soft material, from the sides were pushed or Chased in a manner that would hold the stone in place, surrounding the gemstone almost like a bezel setting. In this manner the entire Necklace or Danglers/Studs were created, with the breath taking beauty of pure gold, dazzling Diamonds, Precious and Semi precious stones including Pearls.

The Mogul motifs, Patterns and judicial use of colors, from the stones to Enamels, truly represent that Era. The intricate and relative patterns and representation in giving the Divine lattice on the surface, lends itself in a very natural form. The gemstones, like the un-cut diamonds, were still in the early gem cutting expertise, that is the Faceting department was yet to be developed. However flat pieces (Polqui) of Diamonds with just the top flat surface polished brightly [earlier Diamonds with no polish that is un-cut were used], acts as a mirror surface and also helps the stone absorb any ambient color, Gold in this instance. The Glow that ensues on account of the Diamond piece embedded, ads a surreal beaming of rich gold color in an incandescent kind of glow. The surface highlights deep rich colors when the Stones are set carefully in patterns gives it the classical unitising ability a borderless unit, despite the huge Number of “Frames” holding on to the Diamonds etc; Amazingly its structural strength is enhanced by several folds, thanks to the Lac that holds it in place.

Lac is an extract from the sap of certain trees which is heated and processed to make lac. Which is a hard and brittle substance when dry and in Room Temperature condition below 25 •C. However when heat is applied say 40-45•C and above, it starts deforming and the putty like lac now is good enough to be moulded to any desired shape or form. This physical property allows the setters to shape the very soft 24kt Gold foil on the surface into which the “Plucked Holes/ Depressions” were to be set with Gemstones and the borders, 24 kt Gold Foil, being pushed or chased to form a Golden “frame” around the Stones. The lac remains in place many a times.

It is here that we can do a little price estimation exercise, so as to pay for what it deserves rather than to be taken on a Goose Ride. As the lac remains in the piece, one should be careful while paying for; we need not pay the price of 24kt Gold for the Lac component. If the lac was removed then there is no argument in the first place. The uncut stones, Free form Diamond Flats, may not be diamonds at all; one could use Synthetic White Sapphire, which is available in plenty everywhere. It is also imperative to be certain if the stones used are Natural and Genuine. Geometrically cut Gemstone component may not be a Genuine stone, it could be synthetic, Glass, Plastic etc;

Meena or Meenakari is the art of Enamelling. The patterns and Motifs are hand painted into pre done Channels and Grooves which when heated to a high Temperature vitrifies and allow the paints to transform into Glass like matter along the pre set forms, giving an overall gold and vitreous texture. Usually most Kundan jewellery exhibits a Kundan- Meena, one side Kundan and the other side, Meena Work. Yes, you could wear which ever surface you want to on the outside!!

Maintenance, it is 24kt Gold jewellery with Diamonds and Precious stones, please be gentle while handling, Keep it separated from other Jewellery, preserve them in the Jewellery Box made for it exclusively. Gently wipe the surface with 10% Peroxide solution (found in Medical Shops) not with cotton but a Lint free Cotton cloth is fine. Make sure you clean it a bit regularly (Ideally after every use) to avoid oil accumulation within the setting. Never Scrub or use metallic tools while cleaning. diamond painting shop

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