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Special Interest Tour to India



Duration : 9 nights / 10 days

Cities covered :
Mumbai, Jaipur, Agra, Delhi

Highlights :
Through this tour the members visit the famous jewelry shops of Mumbai, a visit to Jaipur; world famous center for gemstone setting and Agra - where the visit to the local gem stone inlay work factory will be organized to see the descendants of builders of Taj Mahal working with their age old precision tools. Finally the tour takes you to New Delhi where you will have chance to interact with the members of All India Jewelry Association, to understand more on the latest in buyers trend in Indian Jewelry business.
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[These Special Interest Tour Programs are best run with minimum 6 travelers to a group & more]

Jewellery - Gems :

India abounds in precious and semi-precious stones. Of the84 varieties of gems found here, nine, called the "navratnas" are the most popular. These are the ruby, diamond, blue sapphire, emerald, yellow sapphire, coral, cats eye, garnet and pearl. These stones are often set together in various items of navratna jewellery - a concept introduced by the Moghuls.

An interesting facet of all this is that Indians are quite superstitious about stones. Ancient astrological tradition has made connections between precious stones and human destiny. The way you fare in life depends on whether you wear the right stone. "Taveez", or amulets, are hollow silver or gold pendants. They contain a piece of paper on which they are written words to ward off evil. They are generally worn around the upper arm or neck in a string.

Diamonds are mostly found in the Panna mines of Madhya Pradesh. The cutting and polishing was originally confined to Panna and Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, but has now spread to other states as well. The distinctions in diamonds arise out of their size, the type of cut, and the size of each facet in the cut. All this adds to their dazzling sheen that glitters with the colors of the rainbow. Diamonds that have not received any cracks, clouds or spots during the course of mining or cutting are revered as being flawless and are priced accordingly.

Kashmir is famous for sapphires. Ajmer and other places in Rajasthan produce good quality garnets. Rubies and amethysts are found in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Madras and Hyderabad have ruby cutting artisans. The charm of this industry lies in the transformation of a rough stone into a shapely article of beauty. The lapidary work of Kerala is quite well known. Stones in assorted colors are cut for strings or ornaments, like pendants and ear drops.

Strings made of beads, semi-precious and precious stones are available in every conceivable color, to suite every pocket. The stones are left uncut or sometimes given an elegant diamond cut; intricate carving, as on the coral and jade, is often done on them. The strings are made in a single variety of stone, in a mixed variety of two to four types of stone; or the stones are combined with silver or gold beads. The prices depend on whether beads or precious stones have been used, whether solid gold or silver have been put in, or gold and silver look-alike beads have gone into making the strings. Ear rings and rings to match the strings are also often available, either as a set, or by themselves, for you to mix and match.

Hyderabad specializes in cultured pearls that have become delightfully affordable in the past few years because of mass production. As opposed to real pearls, cultured pearls are produced by the artificial introduction of foreign bodies in the oyster shells. The cultured pearl, which is generally shaped like a rice grain, is then extracted. Cultured pearls that achieve a more spherical shape are comparatively of greater value, as they take a longer time to form. Owing to the virtual disappearance of the naturally produced pearl, cultured pearls are now commonly referred to as real pearls, while completely artificial ones made of plastic, are now wrongly called cultured.

Gold and precious stone inlay work on mother of pearl is executed in the Eastern state of Tripura, to make pendants, bangles and tiny curio pieces. The Eastern states are teeming with tribal jewellery made of feathers, grass, wood, bamboo, shells and bell metal. Popular among these are tribal head bands, bangles and belts.

Ivory fashioned into plain, as well as carved bangles, earrings, necklaces and rings, in various parts of the country, has now been replaced by animal bone which has the same color and texture.

Shopping for jewellery in India appeals to the connoisseur with a keen eye for perfection; it fulfils the love for adornment and confers the thrills of buying in happy abandon. Passage To India arranges specialized jewellery tours that present the sparkle and exquisite variety of gems from India.

Jewellery - Gold & Silver :

Jewellery occupies a prominent place in India's lively craft traditions. This industry is marked by diversity and an endless choice of designs. The earliest ornaments were those made from flowers, leaves, fruits and seeds. Flowers are a form of adornment in South India even today. Shells, horn and ivory are still used for fashioning ornaments. Lac is used by itself for bangles, or as a filling in gold jewellery. Among berries, the "rudraksh" has achieved religious importance and is believed to bring great luck if genuine.

The patterns and motifs of metal jewellery are still based on nature. Gold and silver jewellery from all parts of the country draw from flowers, leaves, fruits, fish, stars and the moon, for their patterns.

There is an ornament for practically every visible part of the anatomy - the head, forehead, ears, nose, neck, upper arms, fingers, waist, ankles, and toes can all be adorned with delicate or heavy ornaments.

Gold has religious connotations and is used for decorating the temple deity, as also for wearing on festive occasions. Along with this, it has a deep social significance. Gold jewellery, given to a bride, is considered "stri dhan" - a woman's wealth - and will stand her in good stead in times of adversity.

Certain ornaments are considered extremely auspicious for marital bliss. In Maharashtra, married woman must wear a "mangalsutra" made of black beads and gold; the "thali" of South India is similar to this; the gold nose ring and silver toe-ring, "bichuwa", have a similar status in many parts of North India. Rajasthani women wear a knob-like jewel at the parting of the hair on the forehead. Kashmiri brahmin women wear jewels on long strings hanging fro the ears called "atteroo". The importance attached to bangles by a married woman is almost paranoiac. Along with gold, glass bangles are considered a symbol of the well-being of her husband and sons in certain communities.

Every state has its own special style of crafting plain gold, as well as gold-studded jewellery. There is a difference in the color of jewellery produced in the South, as compared to the North of India. South Indian gold is reddish in appearance, while gold from the North has a more yellowish tinge. This, of course, is because of the percentage of other metals used in the alloy to make the gold 22 carat - a system adapted from the West.

Handmade gold jewellery, though still considered a specialty, has given way to the mechanized diamond-cut in most parts of the country. South Indian gold jewellery is more solidly carved, and stands closest to the unbroken tradition that is evidenced in the frescoes and sculptures of caves thousands of years old. The states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala are noted for their workmanship.

Hollow gold beads and bangles filled with lac, though a specialty of Maharashtra, are now made all over North India. Bengal specializes in gold inlay work o bangles made of lac and plastic. Goldsmiths of Kashmir excel in stone-studded gold jewellery. The most ethereal designs are created in gold and embedded with precious and semi-precious stones.

The Mughals introduced the art and craft of "kundan" which combines enamelling with diamond encrusting on gold. Traditional jewellery, like the "karnaphul" (earrings covering the entire ear), "guluband" (choker necklace) and "dastband" (bracelet) can still be ordered at select shops in Hyderabad. The encrusted diamond, or white sapphires of these inlays look stunning. The Mughal influence is also evident i the jewellery of Delhi, and many towns like Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh state. Lacquer enamled work, combined with carving on goldand silver, is called "minakari", and is a specialty of Jaipur in Rajasthan state. Minakari on silver, with or without studded gems, is also done on small curios, like jewellery boxes, pen-stands and paper cutters.

Silver ornaments are made in all parts of the country and are often worn in their traditional chunky forms by village belles. Solid ring-like necklaces in silver, that fit close around the neck, are known as "hasli". Anklets are also worn as solid silver rings, or as chains with tiny bells called "payals". Exquisite silver filigree work comes from Orissa and Andhra Pradesh. The floral motifs seem like fine pencil sketches on metal. Besides jewellery, silver filigree is crafted on ash-trays, picture frames, buttons, boxes, and other artifacts. For the tourists, they make good buys, both in terms of the uniqueness and exquisiteness of their design, as also for the value for money. Passage To India operates special tours featuring visits to traditional craftsmen and select jewellery showrooms, highlighting the splendor and variety of Indian jewellery.

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