South Indian jewelry is observable and symbolically different from jewelry styles found in any other region of India. The emphasis is on heavy, ornate, traditional designs and spiritual, floral and animal motifs carved mainly in gold, inlaid with gemstones, pearls and diamonds. When you see a South Indian bride dressed in finery and jewelry, you will no doubt instantly admire her regal and ethnic appearance, but you’ll also wonder how she could possibly be carrying all that weight in gold and still standing!
Open any South Indian jewelry design catalogue and you will see the abundant use of traditional styles, embellished carvings and a pervasive use of rich craftsmanship mounted on symmetrical frameworks.
Let’s take a look at some of the styles of South India :
1. Antique Gold Jewelry
This is the most commonly found type of jewelry in South Indian households and also a bridal favourite. Typically made in this style, you will find the lengthy necklace with old-fashioned patterns, carvings and embeddings.
Big gold beads with engraved gems and intricate carvings, and gold Kundan jewelry (more stress on gold and less on gemstones) are popular in this category, as are carvings on thick, flat pure gold surfaces. Traditionally carved gold choker sets with chandelier jhumkas are also quite popular among women.
The real antique jewelry is passed down as family heirlooms, but what you will find in the market are the modern adaptations of the antique glory. While all that gold is expensive, less expensive gold-plated imitation sets and jewelry are also a preferred option for some.
2. Temple Jewelry
This type of jewelry has its origins in the ancient tradition of Kings paying their respects to Gods and goddesses in the form of jewelry offerings and adorning temple idols with precious jewelry. Inspired by south Indian temples and architecture, temple jewelry is carved with intricate images of gods and goddesses on the pendants, along with chunky designs on pure gold and silver, embedded with gemstones, pearls and filigree.
Temple jewelry is worn by women during religious festivals, weddings, family celebrations and important auspicious occasions. Indian classical dancers wear temple jewelry to invoke divine inspiration. Due to its rising popularity, several gold-plated imitation sets, as well as pieces in brass and copper, are also available.
3. Pachi Jewelry
Also known as Pachchikam Jewelry, Pachi jewelry was originally created in Jaipur and Kutch, but trickled down to the south and made quite an impression there. This style is made of handcrafted patterns of colourful precious and semi-precious gemstones, closely resembling Kundan work.
But Pachi jewelry is based on silver framework instead of gold foil and is has less finesse than Kundan. It is also more delicate. The stress is more on colours and shapes instead of base metal. This type of jewelry uses coloured stones, pearls and pacchi made leaves. It is becoming quite popular with modern women as well as brides-to-be.
4. Animal-motif Jewelry
Another peculiar and fairly common design style in South Indian jewelry is animal motif jewelry. Whether a Kundan bridal set, an arm ornament or a hair adornment, animals like peacock, elephant, fish and parrots find centre stage in South Indian jewelry designs.
The peacock stands for beauty and love, the parrot symbolises fertility, the fish represents creation and rebirth, while the elephant is a symbol of Lord Ganesha, wealth and good luck. Snake is another recurring character in South Indian jewelry. Snake is considered a holy reptile here.
5. South Indian Diamond Jewelry
Diamond jewelry styles in the south, as all other designs go, are heavily embellished and overbearing, whether they be chokers, multi-layered necklaces, earrings or bridal wear. Polki diamonds are a favoured by women who prefer the elegant and refined look.
Diamond and pearl necklaces interspersed with like a necklace embedded with ruby for Cancerian bride and sapphire for Virgo bride are also quite common. Wave and floral themed all diamond necklaces, or even those embedded with gemstones are made with exquisite details and dazzling artwork.
Long-established jewelry styles, traditional and rare handmade patterns and designs, beautifully carved speciality necklaces, opulent bangles and earrings; everything about South Indian jewelry is dazzlingly aureate and sumptuous. Add as much South Indian jewelry to your jewel-box as you can, you’ll end up loving it and cherishing it forever.