The Kamar Bandh or the waist belt is a prime example of the expensive and extravagant aesthetic in jewellery. The waist belt was first observed in the Egyptian tombs, where the belts were designed with blocks of precious stones like amethysts, garnets, rubies, sapphires and turquoise. Later, the Kamar Bandh became more universal ad travelled all the way to the Persian and Mughal empires.
In Odisha and Andhra Pradesh, Kamar Bandhs are made of silver filigree that are gilded to form patterns of flora and fauna, while in Jaipur, the legacy of the Rajput royalty exists in the form of kundan and meenakari works. In Tamil Nadu, where the Kamar Bandh is called Oddiyanam, it is made of gold that is molded in an array of intricate patterns. Again, in the northeastern states, the tribal influence plays an integral factor on the designs of the Kamar Bandhs. This is why Assam boasts of nature motifs and local flora while Manipuri Kamar Bandhs are generally made of shells, claws, stones, feathers etc.
The making of a Kamar Bandh is perhaps the most expansive stage for a jeweller, who in India is referred by many names like sonar, swarnakar and panchallan, because it offers a number of possibilities for gilded motifs, gold and silver patterns, and the inlaying of a variety of precious stones, including diamonds. The process itself is intricate and done in stages, which includes the mixing of alloys, molding, wiring the gold and silver, inlaying the precious stones, plating the base metal and gilding the entire piece. It is either done by a band of jewellers, or sometimes by a single jeweller in smaller rural societies.
In the present days, the Kamar Bandh has become a unique piece of jewellery, its appearance dependent on the region or country it hails from. The belly dancing waist belts are variants of Kamar Bandhs that are formed of single or multiple chains encrusted with diamonds or other precious stones cut and placed into square or circular blocks of gold or silver. The Navaratri Kamar Bandhs in North India are exquisite pieces of jewellery that are often paired with lehengas or sarees to give a traditional appeal and made of silver and gold having multiple chains with floral motifs. Again, the South Indian Kamar Bandhs, which form an essential part of the bridal trousseau and classical dancing attires of Bharatnatyam, Mohiniyattam and others, are enriched in gold and precious gems and paired with silk or Kanjeevaram sarees. Gorgeous and decadent, the Kamar Bandhs are thus becoming a permanent fixture for an enormous range of customers.