The first ever jewellery worn by men and women, was the necklace. In Indian culture, the necklace has become an indispensable part of our attire. It is part of several rituals—birth, religious practices, marriages, funerary practices.
Origin of Necklaces:
Necklaces originated in the ancient Near East where bones, feathers and strings were used in their make. In Mesopotamia, Babylon and Harappa In India necklaces were made with wood, bone, stones and later elegant metal-works of copper, bronze, gold inlay with semi-precious and precious gemstones.
TYPES OF NECKLACES
In the world of ornaments, the necklace perhaps boasts the greatest number of variations. Example:
The choker changes its composition and look depending on the Western and Eastern aesthetics, but the average length of the necklace remains the same – 14 to 16 inches and rests high on the neck or on the collarbones, circling the throat. It was previously synonymous to the collar necklaces but now, chokers have carved their own niche among the consumers.
In the West, the variations of chokers include ribbons, layered chokers, leather chokers, chain chokers and 14K White Gold or Rose Gold chokers, which can be inlaid with gemstone pendants as well. In India the chokers are more detailed and filled with grandeur. They can be single-banded or multi-layered, inlaid with a variety of gemstones like sapphires, emeralds, pearls, garnets, rubies, diamonds etc or pearls. A typical example of the Indian choker is the Gulbandh, which is composed of pearls. The Jadavi Laccha and Chintaak from Hyderabad are more intricate; with several layers of gold sheets inlaid with rubies, emeralds and pearls.
Elegant, luxurious and sophisticated, the princess necklace measures from 18 to 20 inches and is longer than chokers. They are often made of silver or rose gold chains with breathtaking diamond or other gemstone pendants. Because of its understated presence, it makes for a gorgeous accessory for elegant black-tie affairs and weddings that suit both ethnic and modern attires.
Vibrant and colourful, the opera necklace is made of a variety of materials, from beads to pearls. Measuring from 26 to 30 inches in general, it sits on the breast bone and comes as a single strand which can be worn as two strands, one as a choker and the other long and flowing. Longer opera necklaces are also available in multiple strands. Initially worn for formal events, the opera necklace has become a regular accessory for both informal and formal attires due to its chic appeal, and refreshing colours.
Diverse in its creations and styles, the matinee necklace measures about 20 to 22 inches and is made of a variety of materials like pearls, beads and stones. Sometimes, it is accompanied with a pendant as well. The length of the matinee necklace causes it to rest comfortably on a woman’s décolletage, giving an attractive and elegant appearance. Moreover, a matinee necklace can be a subtle string piece or statement jewelry; either way, it acts as the perfect accessory for a wide range of attires.
Unique and lavish in design, the lariat is longer than a sautoir (rope) necklace and can be worn in numerous patterns, from loops to knots. Often incorporated with loops on both ends with the central pendant in place, it can be worn like a lasso as well. Layered or single, the lariat is an eye-catching piece that is often paired with monochromatic attires.
Royal, exquisite and gorgeous, the Rani Haar (Queen’s Necklace) or Sita Haar is an integral part of the Indian bridal trousseau, hailing its origins from the luxurious Indian royalty. Comprising a longer intricate necklace that rests below the bust, it is often paired with a choker to complete the look. An attractive piece of 24-carat-gold or kundan jewelry with inlaid diamonds, gemstones, semi-precious stones or polki, the Rani Haar is a vision of grandeur which completes the look of the blushing Indian bride.
Satlada, literally meaning seven strings, is India’s answer to multi-layered western necklaces with further detailing and luxury. An essential in the Hyderabad royalty, the Satladas are often set with 465 pearls, gemstones like emeralds, rubies or diamonds and are typically manufactured at Basra.
If there is a region in India that boasts of diverse arrays of jewelry, it would be South India. From the traditional gold to the sparkling gemstones, the colours of jewelry find their hearts in the Indian peninsula. Intricately woven into a variety of rituals that are integral to their culture, South Indian jewelry is a marvel. Of them, the Addigai choker, which is generally fitted with a tassel to adjust its length to either sit on the throat or on the décolletage. An intricately designed piece, it is molded with a gold base with gemstones set on it. They are often available in kundan and polki variants as well.
Mango Mala / Manga Malai
Mango Mala or Manga Malai is a singular example of South Indian jewelry that consists of mango-shaped pendants encrusted with rubies or pearls and a central embellished pendant with sparkling gemstones. It is considered a symbol of love and feminine beauty and often associated with the bridal trousseau. An exquisite piece of jewelry art, the Manga Malai is an absolute favorite to pair up with the royal Kanjeevaram of the South.
A symbol of wealth and fortune, the Kasu Mala or the ‘Gold Coin Necklace’ consists of multiple gold coins embedded with the insignia of Goddess Lakshmi that are corded together to form an overlapping chain. A mandatory ornament for any South Indian bride, the Kasu Mala can either be short or long. Besides marriages, it is often worn as a daily piece of gold jewelry by numerous South Indian ladies.