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Even a tiny ornament is made by a team of craftsmen. The finished product is a marvel of the expertise of these different craftsmen and their techniques. Both Kundan setting and enamelling/Meenakari are labour intensive tasks that require the skills of highly trained, specialist artisans. Every jewellery piece speaks for the artistic excellence of craftsmen who skillfully craft them, imparting their work with passion, promoting creation, selecting the best materials with a key focus on details.
This is a traditional process that starts with the designer who sketches the Meenakari design on paper. He makes the creative design which is then forwarded to the ‘Sonar’ or goldsmith who moulds the base metal into its shape.
The goldsmith makes a gold frame (ghat) of the design on a plain wax surface using a sheet of 22-carat gold. These small sections are clustered together according to the design and soldered onto the gold sheet. He then files away any extra gold on the mounting to be ready for engraving.
The Kalamkar or engraver first sketches his design on the back of the mounting which is artistic with an eye for detail. After that, he engraves or carves the base metal for the colours so that it could be filled in.
The meenakar carefully cleans the surface and then puts the enamel powder into areas created on the carved metal plate. The colors are applied according to their hardness, beginning with the hardest. The true colors emerge only when they are fired in the kiln which helps the colour to set and spread evenly.
The chiknawala removes any excess debris on the ornament and polishes the ornament with lemon or corondum which adds to the lustre. Then he forwards it to the hands of the kundansaaz (stone setter), who sets the Kundan, if any.
The Jadia fills the laakh (shellac) in the mounting where the stones have to be set into the design. He then puts the required gemstone with a silver cap on the wax and presses it in with the help of heat. Kundan is a foil made of 24-carat gold that is inserted between the grooves & the gemstones.
After setting the stone into the design, the finished ornament is cleaned and polished. Then, The Patua strings the ornament onto bead or gold chains as and when required. He adds the final touches to his design, and this completes the extensive meenakari process.