Meenakari designing basically refers to the process of coating grooves or engravings in ornaments with colored enamels. Know about its orgin, history, types and designs.

Meenakari Jewelry - An Ancient Indian Jewelry Tradition

Jewelry is such a fascinating field that the desire to create a better piece than before has always kept the jewelry designers busy in experimenting with new designs using new materials. Even people who love to adorn jewelry find the idea of experimenting with different metals and designs refreshing. This certainly heightens the fashion quotient of the person wearing it as variety is what the modern generation always demands for.

Meenakari Jewelry
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Modern Day Jewelry of the Indian Bride

Bridal jewelry gains the maximum attention of all due to its exquisite designs and the aura attached to it which gives a charismatic look to the bride. However; the modern age prefers some new styles in bridal designs as well in order to give a perfect blend of modern and traditional appearance to the bride on the most important event of her life.

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The most important influence over bridal jewelry in India has been brought by Kundan, Rajasthani Meenakari and Thewa works which play a pivotal role in shaping the beautiful designs and carving the shapes of the modern day jewelry of the Indian bride.

Characteristics of Bridal Jewelry Collection

Here is a list of the basic features of the bridal jewelry collection:

  • The symbol of rich culture with a traditional value attached to it.
  • Exquisite look to give a divine appearance to the bride on the occasion.
  • Uniqueness brought out with the modern touch to make it a valuable gift.

Bridal Jewelry Collection
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So, it basically consists of the blend of the best characteristics of traditional jewelry from all the parts of India. Delicate minute detailing, potential use of precious gem stones and exquisite meena works and intricacy of the design form an important part of Indian bridal jewelry.

Influence of Rajasthan’s Meenakari on Bridal Jewelry

Dazzling meenakari works of Rajasthan has greatly influenced the bridal jewelry collection of India. The beauty of this art lies in the intensity of technical skills required for its creation which gives perfection to the ornaments with meenakari designs.

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Raja Man Singh of Mewar is regarded as the patron of the meenakari art in 16th century Jaipur due to whose efforts this art gained a wide applaud among the people. Jaipur became the hub of meenakari art with the influx of highly skilled craftsman from Lahore. In a few years, the talent of the craftsmen made the place a specialized centre of meenakari designing.

Raja Man Singh of Mewar is regarded as the patron of the meenakari art
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What is Meenakari?

Meenakari designing basically refers to the process of coating grooves or engravings in ornaments with colored enamels. A wide variety of metals can be used for meenakari designing which include brass, copper, silver and gold. The jewelry highlights depressions similar to a popular design or animal figurines or images of gods and goddess. The idea behind this is to give the appearance of a picture. The look of the pictures is enhanced by filling the enamels which gives a vivid clarity to the theme according to which the grooves were designed. So, meenakari jewelry is used to beautifully express various themes and occasions and give exquisite look to it. This is one of most applauded features of the meenakari technique which distinguishes it from others.

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Types of Meenakari Art

There are chiefly two types of meenakari art which are popular. First is “Ek rang khula” and the other type is “Panchrangi meena.”

In Ek rang khula enamel, a single colour is used. When ek rang khula type is used for creating meenakari jewelry for the bride, then it’s a wonderful idea to match the color with the bridal clothes.

Meenakari Art
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It helps in highlighting the jewelry by accentuating the beauty of the matching earrings, necklaces, bangles and armbands. It is used basically with more sober colors which include mute and white pastels to embellish one’s looks.

The word panchrangi refers to the use of five colours which include white, pale blue, dark blue, red and dark green. These are such vibrant colors that their usage gives an exciting look to the Indian traditional bridal jewelry.

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Meenakari works can also be used in addition to Kundan jewelry which gives an amazing look to the Indian brides. Use of various precious and semi precious gemstone in the Meenakari art uplifts the look of the meenakari jewelry to a great level. These designs are such that anybody can wear it to add that glamorous touch to one’s personality. And a bride can adorn it to gain a complete divine look which she is believed to be in Hindu mythology on her wedding day.

Meenakari works
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History of Meenakari Jewelry

The art of meenakari involves coloring and ornamenting the surface of metals with the use of brilliant colors in a beautiful design. The word, meenakari, is derived from meena, which is the feminine form of Minoo in Persian, referring to heaven. Meena means the azure color of heaven. This art was invented by the Iranian craftsmen of Sassanid era and spread by Mongols to India and other countries. Jean Chardin, a French tourist who toured Iran during the rule of Safavid referred to an enamel work of Isfahan. This work consisted of a pattern of animals and birds on a floral background of light blue, yellow, green and red colors.

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Journey of Meenakari Art

Since ages, gold has been a preferred metal for meenakari art as it has the ability to hold the enamel in a better manner. Not only this, the usage of gold in meenakari works also enhances the luster of the art while bringing out the colors of the enamels beautifully. The usage of silver in meenakari work was introduced later which was mainly used for making bowls, boxes, spoons, and art pieces. Later on, copper was also introduced in meenakari art after the Gold Control Act which forced the meenakars of India to look for metals other than gold for creating meeenakari jewelry and other art pieces.

Since ages, gold has been a preferred metal for meenakari
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In the initial stages, the works of meenakari couldn’t gain wide recognition as the technique was used as backing for the popular stone-studded jewelry and kundan jewelry. The most fascinating quality of this jewelry lies in its reversibility as it can be reversed and worn by the wearer to enjoy different patterns in the same piece of jewelry.

Process of Creating Meenakari Jewelry

The first step involves the designer who is called as chitera and then goes to the goldsmith who engraves the design. The enamelist applies the colour and the polisher, the stone-setter, and the stringer form an integral part of the important chain of craftsmen who help in creating the finished product.

Process of Creating Meenakari Jewelry
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Surface of the metal is engraved with intricate designs by the meenakars using a metal stylus and later filled with colors. After that, the meena is placed in a furnace where the colors get fused and hardened and appear uniform to the surface. Thereafter a mixture of lemon and tamarind is used to gently rub the surface and get the luster of each color highlighted.

Enamel colors chiefly consist of metal oxides
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Enamel colors chiefly consist of metal oxides mixed with a tint of finely powdered glass. The color yellow is obtained by using chromate of potash, violet is obtained through carbonate of manganese, green through copper oxide, blue through cobalt oxide, brown through red oxide, and black through manganese, iron, and cobalt. The brilliant red is the most difficult color to be created. The colors are applied on the metal as per their level of hardness keeping the hardest as the first. Before the application of enamel, it is necessary to clean the surface of the ornament. To get the true colors, the mixtures are fired in the kiln at an average temperature of around 850 degree Celsius.

The increased demand for meenakari jewelry
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The increased demand for meenakari jewelry in the past few years has certainly proved the growing charm for this art. Available in both traditional and modern designs, it is becoming the first choice for the jewelry lovers.