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What is Meenakari Jewellery? How Do You Recognize it?

Latha Sunadh | Jun 08, 2015, 12:23 IST
What is Meenakari Jewellery? How Do You Recognize it?
A model in Sunita Shekhawat meenakari jewellery
We all love our kundans and polkis and work hard to invest in some intricate and exquisite jali work jewellery as well. But when it comes to ornaments, craftsmanship also plays a huge role. The more intricate the design, the more it is in demand and one such design inspiration is Meenakari jewellery, which is insanely popular in Rajasthan, Delhi and Gujarat. Kashmir, Benaras and Lucknow come second.
Here are a few things you should know about Meenakari jewellery and reasons why it must occupy prime space in your jewellery box.


Find out more by clicking on the following slides

  • Sunita Shekhawat meenakari jewellery2 of 4
    Sunita Shekhawat meenakari jewellery
    What is Meenakari Jewellery? Basically, it is enamel-coated gold jewellery that comes in a variety of colours depending on the design and craftsmanship – the surface is chiselled into shape embedding different colours into the ornamentation. Meenakari is a delicate craft that requires a lot of skill. Most sonars are called meenakars and practise this art only within the family. It is very rare that this art form is passed onto someone outside the family. 
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    Photo credit: Pinterest
    Where Does it Come From? Interestingly, meenakari jewellery has its origins in architecture. Meena work was first created on the Mughal palace walls and then used in jewellery. Meenakari work attained nirvana during the Mughal era – the begums loved it! But it was first introduced to Rajasthan by Raja Mansingh of Amer who saw some Lahore-based artisans working with it. Long ago, meenakari jewellery was used as a back design on traditional polki jewellery. It later became a design of its own and led to something called reversible jewellery, which is now all the rage. 
  • Photo credit: Pinterest4 of 4
    Photo credit: Pinterest
    How is it Made? The meenakari process is tedious. First, the designer creates the design and the sonar crafts it into shape. After that, it’s the job of the engraver to fine-tune the design and the enamellist to the decided the colours. The polisher and stone-setter then add the required skills. But since these many people are not available – this skill is usually practised by one person and that is the craftsman in demand. Gold is the best option for enamel work because it has the lustre to showcase such a craft in all its splendour. It also holds the enamel better and adds shine to it. Did you know? Once they embed the colour and polish the jewellery, it is cleaned with a bit of lemon and tamarind to retain its colour!
    Do you have any meenakari jewellery? Tell us in the comment box.