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Filigree Jewellery Making: An Ancient Indian Art

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There are jeweller art varieties in India that have traditional significance that haven’t faded with time and influx of modernity. The resilience of these jewellery arts come from the unmatched craftsmanship involved in them and the exquisiteness of the resulting jewellery that is irresistibly enchanting.

Filigree jewellery is one such jewellery art that has been around in traditional Indian contexts since ancient times, preserved as a heritage. A jewellery design art with a history that routes its prevalence even to places like Egypt and Greece has also been prevalent in India for centuries. The craftsmen of this wonderful jewellery art are found in places like Orissa, West Bengal and Telangana.

Historically, filigree jewellery originated in Mesopotamia and Egypt which subsequently spread into Asia. Learning filigree jewellery art is a matter of imbibing it from the skilled craftsmen over and above a good understanding acquired from jewellery design courses.

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What is Filigree Jewellery?

Filigree jewellery is crafted with the delicate laces (filigree) made from the careful interweaving of gold and silver wires. The mesh created out of these laces and the complex artistry made into them gives the jewellery a unique decorative style and charm which makes it a favourite choice for ornamentation in traditional and modern contexts.

Filigree – The Indian Connection

Eastern states of India like Orissa and West Bengal are hubs for filigree jewellery. Cuttack in Orissa is particularly popular for a type of filigree jewellery called “Cuttacki Tarkasi”. The jewellery features intricate designs and wonderful artistic patterns. The filigree jewellery is exported and has a very significant market for itself. Karimnagar in Telangana is also a traditional centre of filigree art.

Fascinating articles like temple inscriptions and idols of gods and goddesses, and a variety of decorative materials are created using filigree. Conventional articles like spoons, bowls and vermilion containers, highly decorated with stunning designs are also made using filigree.  Women love the jewellery and wear it on auspicious and other important occasions. Admirers of filigree jewellery are present all over the world, creating a great scope for a highly lucrative market.

Making the Filigree Jewellery

The pain, patience and precision needed in crafting filigree jewellery make it a highly specialised work for the filigree craftsmen. The extremely delicate wires of silver and gold are made and spun into filigree wires. Then, crafting the intended designs with these wires joined, meshed and moulded with extreme caution and care follows. The work involves a lot of soldering and joining with specialised equipments. Once the article is made, it is given a final polishing.

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Filigree – Today and Tomorrow

Filigree, which is an ancient art that still has a great demand and relevance in traditional contexts, is also slowly transitioning and adapting into more modern scenarios. Filigree is today used to craft articles like hair pins, brooches and earrings, which are finding appeal with the new generation too. The future of this art form is promising provided the art form can cater to a more modern clientele, maintaining its original craftsmanship and high quality.

With the development in jewellery design education in the modern times, the focus on such priceless art forms is also getting better.

So the next time you want to buy authentic Indian jewellery, look for filigree jewellery for sure.

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