Gemstone in India – From olden times to present times

India is known to be the home to the oldest civilization – the Harappa and Indus valley Civilization dating 5000 BC. The excavation of these sites proved the existence of this civilization when they found pottery, idols and beaded necklaces. This pointed to the fact that the people of Indus Valley civilization were very advanced and systematic. (The beaded necklace found is at display in the Delhi Museum presently.)

Moving forward (or backward) 2000 years ago India was known for its opulent treasures. Textbooks, Vedas, Upanishads and historical evidence found that India was very advanced and traded in gemstones, metals and minerals. One can read books written by the sages of India, European writers like Pliny the Elder. They mention that India was a very opulent and wealthy country known as the GOLDEN BIRD.

2000 years ago not many countries knew how to cut and polish gems. Many methods and techniques were invented during this period. Each new civilization bought their own techniques to create and wear jewellery with gems.

These text books mention that the kings were wealthy and wore a lot of gems and jewellery and their coifers were filled with riches. The idols of Gods and Goddess were adorned with big gems and intricate jewellery. The Kings, Nobles and their wives were known to wear jewellery to signify wealth and power.

Many methods and techniques for cutting and polishing gemstones were invented in India during this period

Gemstones as symbols of power

Shah Jahan built the Taj Mahal

Travelers like J.B. Tavernier travelled to India for trade and business of gems around the 16th Century. Portuguese and Dutch travelers also came to India as merchants and took back huge amounts of gems to sell in European countries to their Kings and Nobles.

The Muslim Invaders in early Indian history left a huge mark in the way they wore and traded gems and jewellery. Shah Jahan built the Taj Mahal with many different kinds of gemstones. Aurangzeb used to drink in huge cups made out of gem minerals. Swords were imbedded with gemstones to symbolize valor and strength.

Koh-I-Noor is one of the most precious diamond mined in Golconda mines. It was thought that the diamond was first embedded in the idol of Jagganath Puri which was later stolen and found its way in the Mughal treasury. The Peacock throne was later embedded with this diamond. Later on the King of Punjab traded for the Koh-I-Noor and it found its way back to India.

During the British rule the Koh-I-Noor was taken from the young prince of Punjab and it was added to the Queen’s treasury. In present time, the Koh-I-Noor is the crown jewel of United Kingdom.

Koh-I-Noor is one diamond even though it has a very old history people still talk about this diamond in awe.

The Koh-I-Nor is today set in Queen Mother’s Crown

Navaratnam: Gemstones in Hindu astrology

In India, the Navaratnam’s gained prominence due to its effects on they wearer for a better life. The Indian Vedas and Upanishads expounded the Chakras and how they worked with gems. The people of India developed staunch belief in Navaratnam’s and chakra gems.

Astrology was developed and conceived in India by Great sages. The importance of wearing gemstones as per astrology gained importance and many beliefs formed in the psyche of the people.

Navaratna Ring (cc-by-sa 4.0)

India’s rich heritage in the mining, cutting and polishing of gemstones

India has a rich heritage of gemstone cutting and polishing techniques have been passed down through generations. Artisans use traditional methods to enhance the innate beauty of gemstones, showcasing their unique characteristics and maximizing their brilliance. These time-honored techniques involve precision cutting, faceting, and polishing, giving each gemstone a distinct charm.

Gemstone mining has a rich legacy in India, with various regions across the country known for producing different types of gemstones. Rajasthan, also known as the “Land of Gems,” is famous for its production of precious and semi-precious stones like emeralds, rubies, and garnets. The southern states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka are renowned for their production of diamonds and sapphires. Other notable gemstone mining regions in India include Kashmir, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, and Odisha.

The gemstone industry in India relies on the skills and craftsmanship of highly skilled artisans and master craftsmen. These individuals possess a deep understanding of gemstones and possess the expertise to transform rough stones into exquisite jewellery pieces. Their attention to detail and commitment to quality are instrumental in creating jewellery that reflects the rich artistic traditions of India.

Ensuring high quality standards

Since 19th Century, mankind has invented and developed modern ways of living. Machines took over hand labor and factories were set up. Then came the computer age and many advanced technologies took shape.

As humanity evolved with time so did their inventions and the need to live a better life grew. The trade in gemstones also changed and evolved over time. Newer machines were added to the olden methods of cutting and polishing gemstones.

Currently, India is the largest cutting and polishing center for diamonds and it is based out of Surat. 9 out of 10 diamonds are cut and polished in Surat. Jaipur, the pink city is known for the gemstone trade.

The gems trade is based on trust for centuries and the gems were sorted with the naked eye. For better transparency the laboratories were created where the gemstones and diamonds are checked for authenticity and to differentiate between natural, synthetic and fake gems. Gemstone laboratories play a crucial role in the industry by providing accurate and unbiased gemstone assessments. They use advanced equipment and expert gemmologists to examine and verify gemstones’ quality, origin, and treatments. The certifications issued by these laboratories serve as a guarantee of authenticity and can significantly impact the value and marketability of gemstones.

India established national gemstone quality standards to regulate the grading and certification of gemstones. These standards ensure that gemstones meet certain criteria regarding color, clarity, cut, and carat weight. Adhering to these standards helps maintain consistency and enables consumers to make informed purchasing decisions. Tools, equipment’s like loupe, microscope, laser drilling machines to name a few were incorporated in the modern trade.

Dr Thomas Schröck

Gemstones from India are valued worldwide

In the 21st Century, the modern India, gemstones and diamonds are sold online. Influencers play a major role in selling gems and jewellery as they are trending on social media and tempt the consumers to buy the goods.

Mumbai is the financial capital of India and major dealings in diamonds and gemstones take place in this city. India is currently promoting “Make In India” products. Many people can take advantage of this and generate a good business.

The trade routes between India and European countries have been very old ties and there it looks promising for these countries to benefit from each other

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Charmi Soni
The Author:

Charmi Soni

Charmi Soni is born in Mumbai, India and is a descendent of a family of gem stone traders. She has knowledge about gemstones and along with jewellery designing. Her passion for gemstones and a Masters Degree in English enables her to write about the Gems and Jewellery Industry. She has authored a hand book on casting techniques and she is interested in meditation and healing gemstones.



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