Turning coloured dust into liquid to form intricate patterns on grooved gold may sound like a magpie’s luxurious daydream but in fact this is one of India’s oldest jewelry making techniques called meenakari.
Meenakari is the Hindi word for enamel and is often found on the back of another ancient jewelry form called kundan that layers diamonds of gold foil within a gold or silver framework. Don’t take this description wrong, meenakari is no hidden wallflower, the jewelry is traditionally done by carving intricate flowers, peacocks, parrots and elephants onto gold or silver and then accented with regal shades of enamel powder that has been heated to liquidize and take shape. Nowadays designers are going beyond these motifs and traditional forms, creating new venues for this highly lust worthy finish to be showcased.
A specialty out of Rajasthan, meenakari can be found in the form of jewelry, boxes, tables and just about any surface that wants a bit of an imperial touch, both traditionally and contemporarily. Utilizing incredible teamwork and precise skill the real deal can be costly so unfortunately the market is now flooded with cheaper imposters using machines to recreate the painstakingly detailed techniques that originated with the human hand.
– by Aarti Jesrani