These jewelry pieces had brilliant colored enamel on one side and magnificent hand-cut
rose diamonds, rubies, emeralds & sapphires on the other side. Sometimes the exquisite
enamel on the reverse rivaled even the beauty of precious diamonds & gems in the
front. Gold has been used traditionally for meenakari jewellery as it holds the
enamel better, lasts longer and its lustre brings out the colours of the enamels.
All the colors can be applied to it and this is also the reason why the metal is
preferred for Meenakari jewellery. The technique of Meenakari requires a high degree
of skill and application. The piece of metal on which meenakari is to be done is
fixed on a lac stick. Delicate designs of flowers, birds, fish,elephant, lion or
peacock head terminals, etc are etched or engraved on it. This leads to the creation
of walls or grooves, to hold color. Enamel dust of required color is then poured
into the grooves and each color is fired individually. The heat of the furnace melts
the color and the coloured liquid gets spread equally into the groove. This process
is repeated with each colour. As each color is individually fired, colors, which
are most heat resistant, are applied first, as they are re-fired with each additional
color. As a rule, white is the first color applied and red the last. After the last
color has been fired, the object is cooled and burnished or polished with agate.
The depth of the grooves filled with different colors determines the play of light.
The meenakar often works with a team of craftsmen. As meenakari is generally done
on the reverse side of kundan jewellery, the meenakar has to work with the goldsmith,
the engraver or ghaaria, the designer or chitteria and jadiya who applies the gems
on the kundan or gold. The finished product is a marvel of the expertise of these
different craftsmen and their techniques. Both Kundan setting and Meenakari are
labour intensive tasks which require the skills of highly trained, specialist craftsmen.