The art of coating or fusing colour made from different glass & minerals, on a piece of metal, generally gold or silver, is known as enamelling.
The art travelled from Persia with the Mughals to India. Raja Man Singh introduced this art in Jaipur when he invited craftsmen from Lahore at the onset of 16th century. The intermingling of the craftsmen allowed the art to develop & flourish in Jaipur.
Meenakari, as enamelling is known in India, is today an art practised essentially in Rajasthan. While in most of the Rajasthan, it is practised as a secondary art in conjunction with Kundan, it is only in Nath Dwara in Mewar Region of Rajasthan that Meenakari has been practised as a primary art for last 300 years.
Thewa is an absolute reverse of Meenakari. While in Meena the glass is fused on the surface of Gold or Silver, in Thewa the 23K gold sheet is fused onto the surface of Glass. This is purely an Indian art form which developed in Chittor region of Mewar, Rajasthan during the Mughal times. The thewa craftsmen are today based in the city of Pratapgarh, near Chittor.
The primary and basic fact about Kundan is that it has been an Indian art and has stayed like that even after passage of centuries. It has absorbed countless influences emanating from various parts of the country and the world and yet it retained its Identity.
Kundan jewelry is a method of gem setting in a jewelry piece, consisting of inserting gold foil between the stones and it’s mount. It is created by setting carefully shaped, cut and polished/unpolished stones into chambers using exquisitely thin foils of pure gold. The word Kundan denotes purity.
It is the oldest form of jewelry made and worn in India. Though there are no records available that this art was followed anywhere else, there are indications that similar visual effects were being worked at in the surrounding areas.
The Kundan Jewelry achieved prominence during the time of Mughals, who combined it with the Inlay work and the art of Minakari which they had been brought with them from Persia..The significance of elaborate stonework and enameling distinguishes these jewelry pieces from other Indian ornaments of that era. The motifs used were primarily Middle Eastern floral designs in keeping with Islamic beliefs. The base metal used was predominantly gold.
Kundan Jewelry, however, really came into its own when it was patronized by the Royals of Rajputana. Traditional kundan jewelry has stones encrusted on one side and colourful and intricate Meenakari on the reverse. This is done to enhance the look of the piece.
Another form of jewelry that developed in India was Temple jewelry - a classical and traditional form of jewelry commonly associated with dancers practicing the dance form of Bharatanatyam or Kuchipudi. Temple jewelry depicts some of the finest handwork by skilled craftsmen.