Kundan refers to the jewellery in which kundan is applied, mostly made from a core of lac, a natural resin. Kundan works are also known as Kundan keshri which is the traditional South Asian gemstone jewellery. Ornaments made of these semi- precious Kundan stones are said to be the oldest from of jewellery in India. According to laymen, the art of Kundan jewellery making is also known as Jadau jewellery. The Kundan art of jewellery making is nearly 2500 years old where the gem stones were studded with very slim foil of gold. This traditional and antique art depicts the glory of Indian culture and prosperity. Jaipur in Rajasthan is the long established ancient centre for Kundan jewellery in India. It is more of an art of a different kind of technique involved in jewel making purely native to India. The word Kundan by itself is known as "refined gold".

This form of art popularly known as Kundan Keshari is the name assigned to all those works made of the colorful semi-precious stones especially in Indian jewellery and apparels. The Kundan stones are available in various shapes and sizes and can be cut according to the requirement or the purpose for which it is been used. The Kundan stones are used for varied purposes especially in decorating wedding ornaments and clothes for the bride and the groom. The latest designer outfits available in the market are mostly adorned with these semi precious Kundan gemstones. Also the Bollywood film industries make use of kundan work costumes and kundan work jewellery at least for a song sequence. The history of kundan jewelry making in India dates back several thousand years ago to the Mughal Empire and Dynasty period in India, between 1526 and 1858. Kundan stones and its related work were introduced in the country even much before the pre-Mughal era in history. Any work done in Kundan stones were greatly admired and patronized by the royal people of both Rajasthan and Gujarat. They used Kundan stones not only in their clothings and ornaments but also made their furniture and architectural frontage including both exteriors and interiors attractive by the addition of the Kundan stones. Anything worked with the Kundan stones gave a rich appeal and gleamed portraying a rich historic significance attached to them.

Its uses have evolved with time into simpler and more affordable forms, for example, as stone work on lamps for home decor or in diyas.The method of making the Kundan jewellery is said to have originated from the artisans who were associated with the royal courts of Rajasthan and Gujarat. Thus this art of jewellery making which flourished during the period of Mughal era was also soon liked by the common people who copied this art in silver especially in the states of Rajasthan, Bihar and Punjab. The making of the jewellery with Kundan stones involves the setting of the gem with gold foil between the stones and its mount, usually for elaborate necklaces. A slight but most popular variation known as Meena Kundan, Bikaneri or Jaipuri jewellery, is the enameling with vivid colors and designs on the reverse, while the kundan setting is in the front. It remains an essential part of the traditional bridal wedding trousseau in North India. Traditional settings, including the thappa and ras rawa, are experiencing a revival. The Hindi epic film Jodhaa Akbar which was released in the year 2008 portrayed a lot about the Kundan jewellery, worn by the lead character focusing attention on its influence among Rajasthan royalty.

Kundan Speciality
The year 2006 witnessed the contribution of the major share of both market value and volume (73 per cent) in the Indian jewellery market by Kundan jewellery and American diamond. The designs and patterns of different sets worked with kundan stones is a traditional jewelry that is the specialty of India. The designer sets introduced both in clothings and jewellery is available in distinct colors and varied patterns. The jewellery sets and the designer apparels are coming up with new trendy designs suiting the present culture thereby fast catching up the market. The gold which is used in the process of making of kundan jewellery is of extreme refined quality and the process by which the precious stones, gems and beads are set on the gold ornament is known as Kundan by the artisans involved in the making and designing. The craftsmen involved in the Kundan jewellery making require lot of skill and a fine eye for details for mostly the works are quite intricate. The jewellery work of kundan is made of lac in the central portion which is a form of solidified tree resin.

Initially the kundan work is said to have migrated to Rajasthan from Delhi along with the craftsman who made Rajasthan especially Jaipur as the hub of Kundan jewellery designs. Jaipur is one of the major centers of Kundan jewellery which is exported to different parts of the country from here. Kundan jewellery is not only unique but also very traditional, whose art can just not be only admired and let go. There are lot of jewelers who are specialized in Kundan jewellery designs who come up with unique collections and distinct pattern suiting the latest trends. Kundan works on jewelry is even more enhanced by stones encrusted on one side and colorful and intricate meenakari on the reverse. It is very popular and liked by the younger generation for its good sense of stylish craftwork and gleaming appearance. Some of the notable places in Jaipur which are very famous for Kundan works are Johri Bazaar and Bikaner.The kundan jewellery has become the most- liked choice of Indian brides for their wedding jewelry. Apart from the fashion designers who design according to the latest trend there are also a number of traditional jewelry manufacturers who specialize in Kundan Jewellery.

Kundan Work
The detailed and intricate process of working with kundan stones starts with the skeletal framework called Ghaat. The next step which follows the Ghaat procedure is the Paadh during which wax is poured onto the framework and molded according to the design. Khudai process is the next step where the carefully shaped, uncut multicoloured gemstones are laid on pure gold or faux metal base or the framework. The edges are once again filled with more Kundan to mainly strengthen the setting and give it a neat appearance. This was the only form of setting for stones in gold until claw settings were introduced under the influence of western Jewellery in the nineteenth century. This is followed by the Meenakari work which involves the refining process were enameling is done to define details. Next, the Pakai process involves gold foils that hold the gems onto the framework and are joined with the solder. Finally the Chillai process is carried out in which the gems are polished. Meenakari is the blend of coloured minerals like cobalt oxide for blue, copper oxide for green, etc.

This process of engraving so as to provide depressions within which the colors can be embedded is known as Champleve. The application of the colour is mainly for the hardness of those requiring more heat first and then care for the kundan stones. The art of kundan jewellery making mainly includes thin golden wires and Kundan stones. The artisans of Rajasthan not only stop with designing jewellery but they also extend their art by designing excellent outfits of Kundan work like designer saris, lehengas and other Indian dresses. The skilled craftsmen manufacture stunning necklaces, bracelets, earrings, bindis, broaches, chockers, rings, anklets, etc. in Kundan Keshari. Lot of home decorative items and utility products are also designed using kundan stones especially on glass and wood. Kundan work is also used to make decorative and lifestyle products such as envelopes, diyas, etc.

The embroidery done using Kundan stones on fabric is noted for its beauty and richness bestowed to the fabric is said to be virtually unmatched by anything else. Kundan embroidery is a blend of both Zardozi and Kundan work where the main process after the embroidery or Zardozi is done with gold and silver threads, gemstones and pearls are studded on to it giving the costume a royal look. Kundan work on fabric is also quite ancient for it dates back to the Mughal era which got flourished under the royal patronage of both Rajasthan and Gujarat. Once the common people started showing more liking for kundan works the artisans came from different parts of the country to learn and master this skill from the native craftsmen. But with increase in the market price for gold and gemstones the kundan zardozi work on fabrics also struggled, only to come back in the late 19th century with the usage of semi precious stones, pearls and silver along with the modified materials of Zardozi by the manufacturers.

Kundan Embroidery
Jaipur and Bikaner being a major centre for Kundan jewellery, places like Delhi, Agra, Lucknow, Bhopal, Ajmer, Mumbai, Kashmir and Chennai are noted for their Kundan embroidery. Usually kundan embroidery are done on silk saris but now the latest trendy designer wear comes up with embroidery done on even Georgette and Chiffon fabrics. Each stage involved in the making of kundan jewellery is taken care by specialized artisans like the chetairs, who give the basic design and further the engraving process along with the making of the hole is done by the Ghaarias. The enamel or the Meenakari work is done by the enameller. The gold setting and its related work is done by the goldsmith. Finally the setting of the stones into the gold is carried out by the Jadiyas which is quite laborious and intricate. The rate of both the jewellery worked with kundan stones differ depending upon the designs and the labour involved.

Most of the marble inlaid art is mainly done by the craftsmen who are family artisans for generations.The most interesting fact about this art is that even now the artisans use the same kind of tools as used in the 16th and 17th century for this work. Also using the same sort of stones, which are not only genuine but they give real look of the past era. Also it takes more than a day to create a small flower in semi precious stone. There is a lot of demand for the marble inlay products both in the domestic and western countries like USA and Europe. One of the leading unit in Rajasthan which has been doing extremely good in the field of marble inlay is the Marble cottage which was established in 1975 by Mohammad Mubin who was a descendant of Persians artists in Taj Mahal during the 16th century.

Marble Cottage has came up with many innovative ideas. They have studied the interest of the present day requirements and are specialized in different trendy products like Plates, Boxes, Trays, Coaster-sets, Chess Boards, Backgammon Boards, Vases, Wine cups, Card/Pen holders, Photo Frames, Marble Inlay Medallion, Tiles, Inlaid floor, Console Table, Kitchen Counters, Statues, Animal figures, Fire places, Tomb-Stones, Name plate, custom design, calligraphy and corporate gifts. The cost of these products varies depending upon the size and work involved in producing it. A marble inlay table top may cost anywhere between 80 US dollars which is again subjected to change depending upon the size and intricacy of work involved in it.
1. Shrinath Art Gallery, A - 20, Galta Road, Ramganj Bazaar, Jaipur - 302003, Rajasthan, India. Phone: 08447563680
2. DWS Jewellery Private Limited, Jaipur H. No. 490, 2nd Floor, Hanuman Ji Ka Rasta, Tripolia Bazar , Jaipur - 302003, Rajasthan, India. Phone: 08447573486
3. Bombay Creations, No. 5155, Rui Mandi, Sadar Bazar , Delhi - 110006. Phone: 08588851699
4. Bhavishya Darshan, Opposite Haw Mahal, Hawa Mahal Bazar, Jaipur - 302 002, Rajasthan, India. Phone: +91-9314519961
5. Niki Jewels, No. 5/ 6, Om Rishikesh, Haridas Nagar, Shimpoli Road, Borivali West, Mumbai- 400092, Maharashtra, India Phone: 08447529528
6. Nexus Bangles, C-16, Anand Bhuvan, 163/165, V. P. Road , Mumbai - 400004, Maharashtra, India. Phone: 08376806638