Jewelry has always been a symbol of wealth, love, romance, and beauty. People worldwide use jewelry to express their feelings towards others. Women wear earrings to show off their favorite pair of earlobes. Men wear necklaces to give a touch of class to their attire. Some people prefer wearing rings on their right hand, while some choose left-handed jewelry. Rings are worn on fingers to signify a variety of things including friendship, love, engagement, marriage, and even wealth.
There are different types of jewelry found in Nepal. Most common jewelry people wear are necklaces, earrings, bracelets, rings, hair accessories, and other traditional jewelry with significant cultural value. They can be made from silver, gold, copper, brass, diamond, or other materials. All these accessories are made by local artisans in the country who are very skilled at what they do, as matter of fact, Nepali jewelleries are renowned across the world for its beautiful craftsmanship and its quality. As they produce beautiful pieces of craftsmanship, these craftsmen have been able to earn a decent income using their skills.
There’s a wide variety of jewelry options out there. Some are handmade while others are mass-produced. Handmade jewelry has its own unique beauty. Crafted by skilled artists, each piece is carefully designed. On the other hand, mass-manufactured jewelry comes in various shapes, sizes, and colors. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.
There are generally 4 types of jewelleries that are very popular in the country:
- Silver jewelry
Silver has been used since ancient times to make jewelry, cutlery, coins, and other decorative items. In fact, silver was one of the first metals ever discovered due to its easy workability and high market value. The beauty of silver jewelry lies in its durability. Unlike some other metals, silver doesn’t rust and tarnish over time. As long as it is stored properly, your silver jewelry should last forever.
Silver, the first metal that people started using to make jewelry hasn’t lost its popularity in the modern age as well. These metals are still used to craft a wide range of jewelleries across the world. Similarly, in the context of Nepal, silver jewellries are quite popular among the women in the country l. Nepalese women wear silver jewelry that includes earrings, necklaces, bracelets, rings, anklets, bangles, and toe rings. Silver is used to make these items, but they are not always pure silver, some other metals like copper, nickel, zinc, tin, and lead may be used for decorative and economical purposes. However, you can also order 100% pure silver in the Nepali market which will cost slightly higher than the jwelleries made by using cheaper metals.
- Gold jewelry
Gold jewelry has a long history that dates back thousands of years. Back then, only kings and queens could afford gold jewelry. The wealth of a kingdom was determined by the possession and availability of gold and gold resources during that time. The royal families used to accessorize themselves with different types of golden ornaments to showcase their status and wealth.
However, in this period, anyone who wants to look good can wear gold jewelry. There are two types of gold jewelry – solid gold jewelry and plated gold jewelry. Solid gold jewelry is pure gold without any additional materials mixed in. Plated gold jewelry is just pure gold that is coated with various layers of other metals. These golden ornaments are available in various grades which are determined by carats, and the price of the jewelry is relative to that grading, higher carats have higher costs, and lower carats have lower costs. So, if you are in shopping for gold jewelleries in the Nepali market be sure to make a purchase from a reputed craft artist or shop if you’re shopping in the local markets. For shopping in the bigger cities, you can find many showrooms everywhere around the capital.
Gold jewelry is also worn by many people in Nepal. It is often given as gifts between family members. In fact, there is the tradition in the country to pass down the jwelleries to the younger generation as a family treasure which then can be used at the time of difficulties or passed down to the next generation in different ceremonies including marriage.
Generally, women wear gold jewelry that includes earrings, necklaces including other ornaments whereas men-wear includes rings, pendants, and medallions. Mostly the gold jewellries in the country are usually reserved for special occasions like weddings and festivals where they have very significant value.
- Diamond jewelry
The diamond is the hardest natural substance known to man. It can withstand tremendous pressure yet remain strong. This makes diamonds extremely valuable. They are used to make everything kind of jwelleries as they don’t scratch or dent like other materials.
One of the wrong concepts about diamonds is most people think that only white diamonds exist, but there are actually several different colors of diamonds like yellow diamonds, and black diamonds including blue, pink, and many more. The thing about the color segment of a diamond is that it highly influences the price of a particular diamond.
Nepal has long been known for its beautiful and precious gems, similarly, the diamond work hasn’t been left that far behind. The country’s gemstones are among the best quality in the world and have been used since antiquity. That’s the reason why the diamond crafts of the country are generally outstanding in both quality and finesse. As matter of fact, the diamond jewelry crafts produced in the country are even sold in international markets. Compared to other metal jewelleries, the diamond jewelleries made from precious minerals mined out of the earth are certainly valued higher. The hard, durable, and beautiful craftsmanship that doesn’t lose value even in centuries is certainly a worthy investment and memoir to pass down the family line.
- Jade jewelry
This stone was named after the mythological Chinese god of the moon, who had the head of a dragon, and eyes resembling jade. In ancient times, it was believed that jade brought good fortune and protection against evil spirits. Jade was thought to have magical qualities and was used to make amulets for health and protection. Jade has been found in many Asian countries and has been used as protection against evil spirits and a good luck charm traditionally in almost every one of these countries.
Jade has been used for thousands of years due to its beauty and rarity. Jade jewelry includes earrings, pendants, rings, bracelets, necklaces, anklets, and other pieces that have been worn by people around the world. Although gemstone was considered sacred by many ancient cultures including the Chinese, Japanese, and Korean, today, jade is becoming popular again as a fashion accessory.
Similarly, the jade jewelry industry has been booming over the past few years in Nepal. With its rich history that goes back thousands of years, this country is home to some of the finest quality jades in the world. From traditional pieces to contemporary designs, these gems are used to make everything from necklaces, earrings, rings, pendants, bracelets, anklets, hair pins, brooches, and other accessories.
- Copper jewelry
Like silver, copper is a metal that has been used since ancient times in almost every corner of the world. Copper is a common material used in jewelry making because of its beauty and durability. Copper throughout history has been used in many forms to proceed the advancement of human civilization as it is a great conductor of heat, allowing it to be used in cooking utensils and other devices it has been also like wire and sheeting that have worked as stepping stone to push the development of human civilization even further.
This precious metal is known for its warm color and soft feel and unlike other rough-natured metals, copper can be melted down and shaped into any number of gorgeous designs. Nepali craftsmen generally create different types of jewelleries like earrings, rings, bracelets, pendants, chains, and other ornaments that have traditional value in the Nepali culture. Compared to other kinds of jewelleries found in the country, copper jewelleries are soft in nature and have relatively low costs. So, if you want some jewelry as souvenirs or memoirs to remember the remarkable craftsmanship of Nepali jewelers these might be an ideal choice.
Popular Nepali Traditional Jewelry
Jewelry Crafting Process
Jewelry making comes with its own unique challenges and requires special skills. If a person wants to learn the craftmanship they would need to attend classes that teach the basics of jewelry designing. After getting trained, the students may start working independently under the guidance of experienced teachers. However, most shop owners in the local market start their own jewelry shops after learning the basics of designing.
Traditionally, these craftmanship arts has been passed down from generation to generation in the context of Nepal. The jewelry profession sector is adapted by the next generation as the previous generation passes down skills and techniques to the new generation.
Generally, jewelry making process takes about 1-4 days or weeks to complete, the whole process includes finding materials, designing, making, and waxing/polishing a single piece of jewelry. The more simpler the design of the jewelry the more quicker the craft is completed, mostly, women’s jewelleries that feature different kinds of designs take up to a few weeks to complete.
After the selection of the material to make jewelry, the craftsman uses different kinds of tools to mold, carve and design the jewelry. The jewelry-making tools are used to create different types of jewelry materials. They can be classified into two categories: hand-held and bench top. Hand-held tools include hammers, pliers, files, saws, and drills. Whereas, benchtop tools include grinders, polishers, sanders, and so on.
Each tool has its own purpose. Pliers can be used to grip items that may be too small to hold otherwise. Wire cutters are used to trim wire into precise lengths while chain-nose pliers are useful for holding delicate pieces while using other tools.
Similarly, needle nose pliers are great for creating holes and small details. And, tweezers remove dirt from fine surfaces, other tools also have their own relative purpose to give bring specific finesse to the jewelry.
The ordered jewelleries go through these different processes where different kinds of tools and techniques are used. Then after finally finishing the craft, polishing cloths are used to add shine to it before delivering it to the clients.
Also, nowadays, the jewelry-making electric machinery is in the hype. There are different types of jewelry-making machines like hand cranks and electric and hydraulic ones. These machines help in reducing the time taken in making jewelry pieces. They can be easily operated by anyone.
As the machinery doesn’t need much skill to operate, they have been popular among the new generation in the jewelry business. Not only does it makes the work faster but it also significantly cuts down the labor cost.
Popular Traditional Jewelry Crafts in Nepal
- Rani Haar
This traditional jewelry has a very high regard in the country. In the past worn by the royal family, hence the name Raani Haar (Queen Necklace), as it wasn’t possible for the common folks to afford something like that. However, at the present time, it has been one of the most common pieces of jewelry used on special occasions like marriage in the Nepalese communities.
These beautiful jewelleries are created with the finest quality gold or pearls taking the form of different flowers, birds, or animals. These beautiful crafts have multiple layers of gold chains that are adjoined at the two points so they can be worn like other normal ornaments like pote and tilahari.
This is a traditional jewelry that has been in practice since the ancient. These beautiful ornaments are specially designed for married girls in the community. The practice of wearing a tilahari is very common in the Hindu community as it represents the bond between a husband and wife.
These beautiful traditional jewelleries are available in different sizes and also in different color options. The side parts of the tilahari are decorated with beads and the middle part has the gold designs of different shapes and sizes.
This traditional jewelry from Nepal is very similar to the ‘Tilahari’ ornaments, in fact the pote jewelleries can be considered the smaller version of the tilahari. Generally, the tilahari contain a large portion of gold right in between the bead branches, however, the pote ornaments don’t feature that bigger piece of gold craft. The quantity of gold craft used in pote is very low or non-existential at all, there are also many types of pote that are just decorated with different colored beads.
If you have any Nepali friends or if you have ever visited the beautiful country resting in the lap of the tallest mountain in the world, you will notice beautiful nose ornaments worn by the women in the country. Although it isn’t a practice in every cultural community, most of the population, especially Hindu communities have practices of using these ornaments to decorate their body. These ornaments have traditional values and are popular in almost every community of the country, girls start wearing these ornaments from a young age in Nepal.
The general design of phuli is a straight gold line that is then decorated with different ornaments or beads at the top part. The girls in the Nepali community can also opt for another nose jewelry called “Natthi’. The natthi is very similar to phuli and has the same traditional value, however, its design is quite different phuli as it is designed in the shape of a nose ring.
As the name suggests ‘Naugedi’ which can be translated to nine pieces of gold, this traditional jewelry has been in used from the ancient times in the country. The beautiful gold design crafts in between the pote-shaped ornaments haven’t lost their popularity yet. They are still among the most popular jewelry ornaments in the country that women wear on different special occasions from marriage to religious festivals.
This beautiful traditional jewelry has a striking appearance that simply outshines other types of jewelleries. You will find it with different color options as the beads used in this ornament are similar to those that are used in other jwelleries like pote and tilahari. However, you will find the difference in sizes of the gold crafts that represent nine-point of this beautiful ornament.