“All that glitters is not gold”, but it might as well be Kundan. The Indian Kundan market is one of the trendiest markets in the Indian jewellery scene. ‘Kundan’ roughly translates to ‘highly refined gold’, so it is safe to say that the gold used in Kundan jewellery is of very high quality which makes it much more valuable. But the beauty of Kundan is not in the gold, but in the gemstones which it adorns.
HISTORY OF KUNDAN.
The origin of Kundan style is believed to be in the royal courts of Rajasthan and Gujarat, although it found its relevance in the Mughal era. Kundan jewellery was the prized possession of Mughal royalty, and the Kundan artisans during that time were high in demand. Its intricate and detailed work and complicated process is what made Kundan so desirable then, and what makes it so desirable now. Today, Kundan is a much more affordable entity. Ladies don it on numerous occasions like weddings, engagement parties etc. as a killer fashion statement.
PROCESS OF MAKING KUNDAN.
The process of making Kundan is a long and arduous process, involving a lot of people performing a lot of intricate tasks.
- Ghaat (frame). The frame is formed by a process known as Ghaat. In this, fine, hand-beaten gold sheets are moulded into circular cup shapes. These shapes are where the gemstones are supposed to be embedded.
- Paadh. In this process, a substance called lac, which is a solidified tree resin, is used to fill up the cup shapes on the frame. This resin is meant to hold the gemstone in place.
- Khudai. Before the stone is inserted, a thin film of gold in inserted over the resin to provide an added shine to the entire piece. The gold film has to be carefully inserted through a very small stick, after which the gemstone is inserted with the help of hot coal. This process is known as Khudai.
- Meenakari. This process is basically done to accentuate the back of the frame. Enameling of the frame is done using different colours which gives the whole piece a glamorous effect.
- Pakai. The process of Pakai is where the frame and the gold film are cold-soldered together by burnishing techniques in order to set the gemstones onto the frame.
- Chillai. This is the final step of the process where the gemstones and the framework is extensively washed and polished. This helps in removing the dark spots caused by the Pakai process and gives the entire piece a glamorous glow.
Kundan work has been a huge contributor in the Indian jewelry scene. Its grand history and complex procedure are what drive its markets not only in India, but all over the world. Kundan is an affordable entity, and with the demand it holds in current trends, it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.