Traditional, yet eye catching, a Jadau is regal to the core. By Surekha Kadapa-Bose
One look, and you will admit it’s awesome. It gives the impression that only women of the Royal lineage have the right to flaunt it. Coming from Bikaner, a small town in the north-western region of the state of Rajasthan, the world famous Jadau jewellery, which has uncut diamonds set in the beautiful work of Minakari, is nothing short of a royal treat.
Today, Jadau jewellery has crossed the borders of Rajasthan and can be found in the possession of every woman who wants to own something incredibly classy, a little traditional, but at the same time a sure eye-catcher. Today it can be found even in Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Delhi and other places. But majority of artisans working on Jadau are still from Rajasthan.
In the metro cities of Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, several jewellery houses like Rose, Talwarsons, Art Karat, Tanishq, Amarpali, etc. and designers namely Bela Rastogi, Roopa Vohra (Mumbai), Alpana Gujaral (Delhi), Raj Mahatani (Kolkata) and many others create Polki and Jadau pieces with the help of karigars from Bikaner. A good Jadua piece requires a lot of hard work. But there is nothing to beat the Jadau collection in a woman’s collection. It addsa touch of class.
With Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan playing Jodha, a Rajasthani princess always resplendent in typical Jadau jewellery in the Hindi film Jodha Akbar, this jewellery topped the popularity chart. Another actor, Shilpa Shetty, first walked the ramp for designer Tarun Tahiliani in his Jadau bridal collection and later, followed it up in real life by choosing to get married in hordes of Jadau jewellery. This made every modern woman sit up and take notice of this piece of jewellery, and those who could afford it to opt for at least one such set in their collection.
Jadau is the oldest jewellery tradition since the Mughal era. It is said that the Mughals were
responsible for popularising the Jadau. While a Jadau piece looks gorgeous and gives the feeling of full jewellery, it costs a little less than any other diamond jewellery piece.
An individual craftsman can’t craft this jewellery, as there are several steps involved in making each piece. It requires an entire team of craftsmen for undertaking each specific task. The chiterias make the basic design, ghaarias do the engraving and make holes in which at a later stage uncut diamonds or polki are set. Meenakari or enamelling is done by the enameller and the goldsmith takes care of the kundan or the gold. Polki or vilandi are used as the central stone. Meenakari at the back of jewellery is purely for decorative purpose. The stone or diamond setters first set the stone in silver foil, then fuse with a finishing of pure gold.
Earlier a Jadua set meant only white polki with colourful Minakari work. But fashion and variety has taken over the traditional designs and colours. Along with polki, even rubies, sapphires, emerald and other precious gems are used in the making. Some of the traditional neckpieces, namely Hasli haar, Jhalar haar and Ek Ladi haar are popular even today.
Many can’t afford the Jadau, as the usage of precious gems and stones make the jewellery come at exorbitant prices. To compensate for this, Jadau is also made using semi-precious stones and is known as Kundan jewellery. It is as beautiful as Jadau but for the usage of gems.
Every contemporary designer can’t design Jadau. “I can’t design Jadau. It requires a different mindset, work and customers,” says Laksh Pahuja, a Mumbai-based jeweller, famous for his unique designs.
Earlier the Jadau was mainly part of bridal jewellery, which was worn once and then relegated to bank lockers, with the result that very few women actually owned Jadau pieces. This, in a way contributed to the practitioners of Jadau becoming almost extinct. Today, with a revival in its fortunes, even the traditional designers are creating such pieces, which can be worn by the younger generation. Instead of an entire set, today we get earrings, finger rings, pendants and kadas as separate items. These items can be matched both with Indian and Western attire, thereby making Jadau popular with the present day women.