Each piece at the ‘Art Karat’ is a hallmark of the Mughal history.

The Mughals brought the art of ‘minakari’ and ‘kundan’ to the country which along with egg- shaped diamonds, rubies and emeralds as described by 17 century jeweller Taverneir – came to define their magnificent jewellery. ‘Art Karat’ brings back a whiff of Mughal jewellery in their ‘Begum’ line, an exquisitely handcrafted collection of neck pieces, tikkas, earrings, bajubands and tiaras in large part recreated from the jewellery worn by Empress Noor Jahan, Mumtaz and other imperial begums as seen in miniature paintings and portraits. Necklaces with evocative names such as Taksh, Shah-e Noor and ‘Shahanaaz’ evoke Mughal history, its grandeur and immaculate craftsmanship perfected in the ateliers.

Contemporary designs

Enormous jhumkas with diamonds and signature rings bring in the grand aesthetics which was the hallmark of the great Mughals, while the placing of polki stones and tweaking of design gives the jewellery a contemporary feel.

Asha Kamal Modi, designer of the Begum line, says, “When your design melds history with the present you connect the concept and the historical context with a certain look. The Begum theme has been taken from Mughal jewellery based on detailed study of Mughal miniatures, particularly the portraits of Noor Jahan, Mumtaz and Princess Jahanara. Do you know that under Noor Jahan the craft of minakari was invented or that emeralds were Jahanara’s favourite stone? I studied both Mughal miniatures for the look and fine detailing and also the available literature of the time. I then arrived at a certain look. And of course we had the Mughal design language as the focus. Basically I pick up a theme, follow it up and then contemporise. Every piece has been handcrafted at our atalier by minakari and kundan artisans from Rajasthan.”

The Begum theme is path-breaking in the sense kundan craft has been done in silver, making even the must exotic piece affordable.

New perspective

Not only has kundan been reinvented in silver, many of the neckpieces mix kundan with ‘pave’ carved gold work, minakari and touches of South Indian temple jewellery tradition. Apart from precious stones such as ruby, emerald, and diamond, semi-precious opal and amethyst have also been used giving Mughal jewellery an exciting new perspective.

The ‘Begum’ spread offers much – neckpieces celebrating kundan work studded with emeralds, rubies and diamonds. A diamond choker set in Mughal traditional style, stunning neckpieces featuring a mélange of enamel floral motifs and pearls and rectangular emerald pieces, emerald and sapphire polki haars, a necklace of cascading tourmaline, black enamel jhumhkas set with pearls and diamonds, tikkas, bajubands and bangles.

‘Begum’ is on view till August 26, at Art Karat, Ispahani Centre, Third Floor, 123/124, Nungambakkam High Road.