The tradition of jewelry making (and wearing of course) is almost as old as India itself. As it is well known India has been a home a number of ancient civilizations as diverse in culture, language, religion and other elements of personal and communal living as possible. One thing, however, that has been common among all is the ornaments of personal adornment i.e. jewelry.
The Indian tradition of Jewelry is built around Gold, Silver and Gemstones and it seems like everybody from royals to the commoners and even their gods have been in love with all the forms and shapes of jewelry.
It has been a customary that Indians would present precious items of adornment made in gold and silver and decorated with gemstones to their gods in order to please them. Some temples housing those gods would, over the time, become so wealthy due the stockpiled presents that they would attract invaders from Central Asia and other regions who would come all the way with their huge armies just to raid such temples and take away the wealth accumulated in gold, silver and gems.
Among Royals it has been a tradition that they would exchange various ornaments of high value between them to prove their loyalties, allegiance, faithfulness or association. Moreover, some of the forms of such ornaments were also used to indicate the social, administrative or other status of the individual who would wear them. For instance, under almost all the monarchies, a variety of turban-ornaments distinguished by their size, shape, color or the materials would be specified for the use of the King/Maharaja, the intimate royals and high level dignitaries in the court and no one else would be allowed to use those special ornaments. For the making of such specialized adornments the royals would pick masters of the art and designate them as Royal Jewelers and assigning them special seats in the their courts.
In Indian tradition, gemstones were also linked with various elements of astronomical importance and were believed to have strong influence on human life. Many of the Indian Maharajas would wear an amulet called nau’ratan (nine elements) that would be a high value ring fixed with all the nine kinds of gemstones (Cat’s Eye, Coral, Diamond, Emerald, Pearl, Ruby, Sapphire, Topaz and Zircon) each of them representing one or the other element of the Hindu Universe and all of them together representing the universe in totality. Among all the gems diamond was considered to be the most powerful hence the king of the gems and thus valued very highly. India is also, by many historians, considered to be the first country to discover and mine diamond with some of the known diamond mines dating back to the times as old as 300 BC.
Besides gems being considered, in Hindu tradition, representatives of specific elements of the universe, the metals Gold and Silver also had very interesting values associated. As we know Gold doesn’t oxidize like many other metals and doesn’t erode this fact made the people to associate gold with immortality. Furthermore, its yellow shiny color made it the symbol of hot sun while silver, quite naturally, got respect as the cool moon. This association of the raw-materials of jewelry with the so-called godly objects also made jewelers very important and gave them high stature in the Indian society.