Spotlight on Indian Karigars at the Big Fat Indian Wedding!

Traditional jewellery has been an integral part of Indian weddings for centuries, consistently topping the wish lists of Indian brides then and now!

The biggest and most talked about Indian wedding celebrations in the recent past is a clear indicator of this enduring trend. Among the various aspects of Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant’s pre-wedding festivities that got global media coverage, the intricately crafted jewellery by Indian karigars won the most respect and admiration.

“We were committed to maintaining the bar of excellence up while crafting all these custom-made pieces,” says Sunita Shekhawat, a renowned Jaipur-based jewellery designer, discussing the special jewellery pieces she designed for Ms. Nita Mukesh Ambani, mother of the groom, Anant Ambani. Shekhawat redesigned her signature Padmapriya collection to reflect her client’s affinity for flora and fauna, incorporating a parrot motif with pink and green enamelling, creating an arresting symphony of colours. “At the heart of each piece lies the lotus design, symbolising Ms. Nita Ambani’s spiritual devotion to Goddess Lakshmi,” she adds.

The jewellery was crafted from pure gold, comprising 92%, with the base made of 24-karat gold kundan (foil), which was beautified with champlevé enamelling. (Champlevé involves fusing powdered glass material into indentations on a metal surface by applying heat.)

While earrings, necklaces, bracelets (known as bangdi), and tikka headpieces took centre stage, Shekhawat also designed a special jooda-pin (hairpin to secure the bun) to complement the ensemble. The entire collection required 500 man-hours to complete.

Jewellery created for the bride, Radhika Merchant was a beautiful mix of modern aesthetics and traditional Indian craftsmanship. With her bespoke Versace evening gown, Radhika wore a stunning solitaire diamond necklace handcrafted by Mumbai-based diamond jewellery brand Kantilal Chhotalal.

The necklace was composed of D flawless diamonds and matching intense fancy yellow diamonds, which took over a year to source. “The line of yellow and white solitaires is illuminated with the fire of five radiant hearts nestled at the centre resulting in a deep contrast between the stones. Each curve, each facet, was imbued with meaning, representing the journey of their relationship and the depth of their bond,” explained Parthiv Mehta, Partner of Kantilal Chhotalal.

Mehta explains how each diamond was set by a master artisan to magnify its lustre and brilliance. “Every setting minimises the use of metal, and any visible metal is sheathed in diamond pave sockets, using techniques perfected over generations of fine craftsmanship. Our master craftspeople brought unparalleled precision and artistry to setting the heart shapes, whose intricate curves and proportions make them a rare specialty and therefore, challenging to set.”

Mehta added that it is this dedication to the craft that imbues this piece with a sense of timeless elegance and truly celebrates the remarkable stones as a work of art to be cherished for generations to come.

Radhika Merchant chose the Guttapusalu necklace designed by Sunita Shekhawat

Radhika Merchant also wore traditional Andhra jewellery created by Sunita Shekhawat for one of her Indian looks. “Our atelier crafted an exclusive Guttapusalu necklace for her Mehndi ceremony, resplendent with sizable polki diamonds and verdant emeralds all interwoven with a delicate strand of pearls,” Shekhawat explains, adding that while for some people, uncut diamonds are a symbol of crudeness as they have a rigid texture “but for us, in Rajasthan, it is more of a symbol of authenticity and transparency. It has its own beauty, with each facet holding a distinct narrative of the past,” she says with a touch of pride.

Ivanka Trump sports a one-off grand diamond and emerald necklace by Manish Malhotra that took 100 manhours to craft.

Indian jewellery was also favoured by guests at the pre-wedding festivities too. Ivanka Trump wore several pieces of jewellery from Manish Malhotra’s high-jewellery collection to accentuate her Indian looks. One particular piece was an 18-karat gold necklace featuring brilliant-cut diamonds and armour-shaped Zambian emeralds necklace, which took a team of 5 skilled craftsmen over 100 hours to create. Ivanka paired it with a white mijwan lehenga.

Ivanka Trump sporting a Manish Malhotra choker.

The other piece she wore, from Malhotra’s Imperial Heirloom collection (see above), featured Russian emeralds and uncut diamonds studded in 18-karat gold.

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