Hotels in India » Fashion in India » Rings



The traditional and religious significance of rings if fast diminishing, giving way to trendy international designs emphasis on style.

No other nation in the world can surpass the 5000 years old record on India with its unbroken history of the custom of wearing jewellery. The women of this land are unique in that, even today, for various reasons the use of ornaments continues with undiminished vitality. Of these the ring in its various forms adorns the nose, ears, fingers and toes. Amulets worn as charm against evil also come in the form of rings. Usually at the child’s naming ceremony performed on the 12th day after the birth, a small ring or stud is inserted into the ear lobe or nose toes as a protective amulet.

Nose: The widespread use of nose ornaments in India today has created a misconception that wearing of these an ancient Hindu custom based on religious sanctions. Yet French historian-writer I.L.Blanchol says, “the Muslim ladies also perform certain vows in the name of renowned saints and make their children wear nathunis (nose rings).”

Going back to ancient Indian civilization, there are no nose rings on the stone and clay sculpture of Indus, Sanchi, or at Ajanta, Ellora and Badami. Neither is there evidence of the use of nose rings from the plaques, seals or coins excavated from Mohenjodaro, Harappa or the Kushan and Gupta dynasties. Similarly, the bronzes of the Apsaras of the 9th century, or the 11th/12th century Uma of the Pala period and Parvati show an absence of this ornament of the nose. Evidence of nose rings and studs appear only in the 15th and 16th centuries.

Thus, nose ornaments which are commonly worn as marriage ornaments today one can conclusively say, appeared around the end of the 16th century and are believed to have been introduced by the Mughals. The most common type is not a ring, but in the form of a stud known as phul. This is worn through a hole in the left nostril an secured by a screw fitting on the inner side. Its size varies from a small gold ball or diamond to a flat disc with a highly ornamental surface. Additionally, the stud may have small attachments like a fringe of hanging chains or small pendants.

Large nose rings are also worn. They may be plain silver or gold hoops but they may also be extravagantly ornamented with enamel, pearls and precious stones. Heavy nose rings are usually supported by cords of fine chains hooked to the hair or head covering to hold the ornament flat against the cheek, otherwise their weight would distort the nose. The bulak from Mandi in Himachal Pradesh, won by the local Dogra women is one of the largest loop nose-rings worn in the country. It is decorated with granulation and set with stones, covering a large portion of the cheek and mouth.

The third basic type of nose ornament, usually of gold, is pendant hung from a hole in the central septum. Single rings are most commonly worn but some pendants may be so large and complex that they hang over the mouth and must be lifted up when eating.

To persons outside this culture, nose ornaments must probably seem the strangest of all Indian jewellery, although in context they are extremely feminine, attractive an meaningful.

Ears Gandharva sculpture, as early as the 3rd/4th century A.D. is characterized by the presence of ear ornaments. The Buddhists were said to have favoured massive earrings.

The forms and size of ear ornaments vary enormously. They can be decorated in an immense number of ways including embellishments with enamel, stones or pearls. Almost any type can have additional small decorative chains and hanging miniature pendants often in small leaf shapes, balls or bells. Some earrings are so heavy they must be supported by a cord or chair, often elaborate, that passes over the ear or is hooked to the hair. Other types of unsupported ear ornaments are worn from a hole in the lobe, which as a result is permanently stretched to an unimaginable degree. The large disc plug of Gujarat and the various kinds of heavy earrings worn by the women of Tamil Nadu are examples of these. Women of some regions had ears pierced with holes of a diameter which almost amounted to mutilation and wore enormous pendant earrings made from gold and inlay.

Fingers: Rings for the hands have been found at practically all levels of Indus Valley Civilization. Mohenjodaro excavations have brought forth copper rings with several coils, yet none of gold and very few of silver were discovered. Perhaps there was religious prejudice against gold rings then.

Rings, over the ages have been worn on all the fingers including the thumb. They fulfilled the triple function-decorative, talismanic and signatory. These are made of various materials. The innumerable forms of metal rings can broadly be divided into those with and without bezel (the part of the ring meant to hold a decorative decree, stone or seal). While rings set with personal seals are less common today than formerly yet rings set with stones are ubiquitous. The particular stone may be chosen for reason other then mere appearance. According to Hindu astrology, each of he nine planets in the Universe is represented by a specific stone. Most Indians are aware of the planet dominant at the time of their birth. It is believed to exert a strong influence on the persons life. By wearing the stone associated with one’s planetary sign, it is believed that the effect can be enhanced or mitigated according to the nature of the planet. A very popular arrangement of stones called Navaratna (nine gems) is used in rings and other ornaments. By wearing an ornament with these nine stones the wearer is believed to be provided with universal protection.

In a special category is the larger thumb-ring or arsise with a circular mirror. A rural bride wearing such a ring during her marriage ceremony, her eyes downcast in modesty, can see in it the reflection of her husband’s face, sometimes for the first time! Other thub-rings, unequivocally courtly pieces in shape and material were worn from the late 16th to the mid 18th century during the reign of Shah Jahan. They were considered the finest examples of Mughal Jewelled gold. Yet another type, now obsolete, is the Archer’s ring of jade or gold, at times set with gems and embellished with enamel. Its Central Asian origin accounts for its popularity among high ranking men during the Mughal period. To the Romand the ring was the most important item of jewellery. Theirs was the first civilization to use it as a sign of betrothal.

Today the rings have only fashion value. The traditional significance seems to have diminished. With the international tends influencing the domestic fashions designers are going in for trendy rather than the traditional. Manisha Khaiyam, Chief Designer with RB jewellery Corp. at SEEPZ, Bombay was one of the two winners at the jewel yatra 92. Designing primarily for the western (American/European) and mid-eastern markets, she finds a great deal of difference between the two. The upmarket American and European buyers go n for sober elegant styles with the accent on high quality stones. Whereas the Mid-East buyer is still influenced strongly by Persian, Islamic and Indian designs. They prefer a continuity of old designs mainly with coloured stones and a larger amount of gold. The trend in the local market, in India is again predominantly for old designs with a modern touch. Consciousness of design is coming in and the woman in India also want the designs that we do for the foreign market. This could be due to the exposure via the media. Where the cost factor matters, many are prepared to settle for American diamonds (cubic zirconium) as long as the form is trendy! She reveals.

Specifying further about the different kinds of jewellery, Minisha points out that jumkhas are still favoured here as studs are abroad. Danglers are in vogue, but more as costume jewellery. We play more with metal and coloured stones and minimize diamonds to cut down costs, she aves.

For the nose, single stone studs rate high, or the traditional design with a few diamonds. Lops are on the decrease, unless they are family heirlooms used for weddings and other ceremonies. For the feet, due to more women wearing closed shoes, the touring in most cases is now a take-off accessory and not necessarily a symbol of marriage, except among the more orthodox and conventional woman.

A set of rings gaining great popularity are a combination of four-into-one. separate old bands with different coloured stones, the usual being diamond, ruby, emerald and sapphire.

These can be worn to match any ensemble or all together to give a rainbow-like effect. In the west they are known as a Game of Rings she says.