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Understanding the grandeur of the Kundan and Polki jewelry of the Mughal Era

Editorial Comment: Kundan/Polki Jewelry is traditional, royal, and elite – a great reminder of India’s rich heritage, from the grandeur of the Mughal era. Kundan, meaning ‘pure gold’, is one of the oldest forms of jewellery making and stands for ethereal beauty, elegance and superb craftsmanship. Today Kundan and Poliki are both extremely popular choices for brides wanting to look traditional and regal on their wedding day.

Kundan vs Polki
Kundan and Polki are both stones. Polki jewelry is made of unfinished natural diamonds – essentially uncut diamonds that are mined from the earth naturally without any enhancement or lab creation – always in great demand and highly valued due to its natural form.

Polki is also much shinier and much more costly than Kundan jewelry. Kundan is made of glass stone (glass polki).

The technical process of making Kundan and Polki is similar. Flat or uncut stones are set on 24 carat gold jewelry using lac and fine pure gold foils. Polki jewelry is made with a gold foil at the back that has been painted to place the diamonds in between with uncut diamonds reflecting light. Kundan jewelry is extremely elaborate with layers upon layers of stone and precious metals and intricate joint work. The undersides of these pieces are enamelled.

The process of making Kundan and Polki jewelry is very intricate and time-consuming and requires great skilland craftsmanship. “Jadau” is a technique used in making Kundan and Polki jewelry, wheras Kundan and Polki are stones.

Meenakari” is a colorful style of jewelry that flourished during the Mughal era – hugely popular with the Rajasthan royalty – it is the art of coloring and ornamenting the surface of metals by fusing over it brilliant colors that are decorated in an intricate design. Over the centuries, Meenakari combined wth the traditional Rajasthan Kundan style of jewelry. Manufacturing of Kundan-Meena jewelry is a long, skill-intensive job, requiring great effort and coordinated teamwork to create exquisite pieces. The designs are simple yet aesthetic, consisting of simple geometric patterns to the more elaborate embellishments. Kundan-Meena is a unique technique of making jewelry by encrusting gold with precious and semi-precious stones (Kundan work) on one side and the art of colorful enamel work (Meenakari) on the reverse side. Kundan-Meena jewelry of India has a growing worldwide demand The most desired products include pendants, earrings, rings, necklaces, nose rings, chokers, anklets, waist belts, armlets, maang-tikas and other decorative items.

Pricing for Kundan/Polki Jewelry
Polki jewelry is priced according to its carat, cut, clarity and color (just like diamond jewelry, since it is essentially diamonds in natural form). Polki jewelry is priced higher compared to Kundan jewelry and so is its sparkle.