Indian Jewelry: Gem Stone Types & Descriptions

Written by dan boone
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Indian Jewelry: Gem Stone Types & Descriptions
Inidan Jewelry is characterised by different gemstones (Baerbel Schmidt/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Indian jewellery is characterised by distinct designs, with a variety of colourful gemstones, typically set in gold and silver. Gemstones in some Indian jewellery are believed to bring balance and peace to those wearing them. Authentic jewellery from India is often characterised by traditional precious stones such as diamonds, emeralds and rubies. It also has lesser known gemstones of significance.

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Navratna Gemstone Jewelry

A type of Indian jewellery known as navratna is encrusted with nine different gemstones associated with the practice of Indian astrology. Each one, signifying a planet, is believed to endow the person wearing it with specific cosmic protection. A ruby or a garnet signifies the sun and it is often put in the centre of the design. A zircon or a diamond symbolises Venus, while a pearl is used to depict the moon. Other gemstones included in the navratna jewellery have been known to vary somewhat. They often include either precious of semi-precious stones, such as emerald, sapphire, coral, carnelian, amethyst, tourmaline, topaz, cat's eye, citrine and peridot. Navaratna jewellery should include flawless gems to have the most positive effect. Cat's eye included in many navratna pieces is a brownish yellow stone with a line that shines through it that looks like an eye.

Kundan Gemstone Jewelry

Kundan jewellery is the oldest form of adornment in India, which originated 2,000 years ago. Kundan jewellery sets multicoloured gemstones into elaborately designed pure gold or metal. Craftsmen, known as "jadiyas," use stones such as jade, agate, garnet, emerald, rock crystal, topaz, amethyst and spinel in their Kundan jewellery. Spinel may be the least known of these gemstones. It is a hard and durable stone found in a rainbow of different hues. These include shades of red, orange, yellow, dark green, blue, purple, brown and black.

Yelow Sapphires

Yellow sapphires, known as "pukhraj" or "ushparaga" in the Indian jewellery markets, are some of the most prominent gemstones in India. They are believed to have intrinsic healing powers and deliver prosperity and spiritual enlightenment to those who wear them. Indian jewellery often includes a yellow sapphire ring encrusted in gold that should be worn on the index finger.

Diamonds

Diamonds may be the most globally well-known gemstone. Few may realise that the earliest reference to diamonds dates back to India. Ancient budhists in the third century wrote about the stone's remarkable brilliance and ability to scratch metal. Today diamonds are still central to India, which accounts for about 90 per cent of the world's diamond manufacturing. Indian jewellery uses at least six colours of diamonds that correspond to six deities. A perfect diamond is considered the property of these deities. Many Indian women adorn themselves with gold and diamond-studded necklaces, bracelets, nose pins and rings.

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