The Mughal Empire: Gold & Gemstones

The Mughal Empire: Gold & Gemstones

Indian royalty have been famous for their lavish and intricate gold gemstone jewellery for centuries, with many trends spreading across the globe and into modern day jewellery design. Extravagant jewels adorned both men and women, and represented one's status and royal lineage. 

The Mughal (Mogul) Era took place from the 16th to 18th century when the Muslim dynasty ruled Northern India. They were of Turkic-Mongol origin and bought many craftsman with bountiful skills and talent to India. This movement was founded by a Chagatai Turkic Prince named Babur in 1526. Many Mughal princes wed Rajput princesses, creating new jewellery that combined both regions signature styles. The Mughal's craftsmen redefined gold jewellery during this era, creating intricate and carved pieces of art that have become famous heirlooms and collectables.

Enamelled jewellery is currently taking the world by storm, however this famous style is deeply rooted in the Mughal Era. This technique was referred to as Meenakari, originating from the Persian word "minoo" meaning heaven, and was performed by highly skilled craftsmen named Meenakars. It is believed that King Shah Jahan introduced Meenakari to Rajasthan in the 16th century. Gold was carved and embedded with colourful powdered minerals to create floral and vibrant finishes.

Enamelling was originally used for architectural purposes and can still be seen adorning walls, ceilings and pillars in many forts and palaces across Rajasthan today. Enamelling eventually spread across India and different regions became synonymous for particular colours of enamelled jewellery. 

Many other trends, including anklets, filagree jewellery, embroidered clothing and shoes, and accessories with gold hardware, also stem from the Mughal Era. These styles eventually spread to Europe during Maharajas travels, where they commissioned famous jewellery maisons to create masterpieces for them. Unfortunately many jewels were removed from India during the colonial period.

Most famously, Maharaja Bhupinder Singh inspired Jacques Cartier to create his Tutti Frutti collection, consisting of daring gemstone and colour combinations.

The Mughal Era has defined modern-day jewellery and has transcended generations.