Traditional Indian Sterling Silver Gemstone Jewellery
The practice of setting gemstones into precious metal probably originated in the Middle East, but India, with its wealth of precious and semi-precious stones and its many trade links, has a long history of gemstone jewellery. India also had an abundance of ivory from its great herds of elephants, and one of the most important pearl beds off Tuticorin, in the Palk Straits between south India and Sri Lanka. With mines for gold and silver, rubies, garnets, agate, diamonds, tigers' eyes and the riches generated from local agriculture and the trade in local cloth and handicrafts, Indians of some means had many different types of jeweled ornamentation available to them.
Jewelry has always functioned as a material repository of wealth and its role as such was prevalent all through the social scale. The rulers of Indian states, permanently threatened by dynastic upheavals and internecine feuding, needed to hold their wealth in a form that was extremely compact and portable and could be easily hidden or traded. Costly jewelry satisfied these conditions ideally, and there are many stories of Indian princes fleeing into the desert night with their gold, jewels and pearls, buying security from foreign rulers and sometimes even the military help needed to regain their kingdoms.