What’s It Worth? Indian Wedding Jewelry

The story behind portable wealth.

Scores of cultures and ethnic groups have been persecuted over the years, and their struggle to prevail is the reason behind portable wealth.

The diamond industry is said to be largely controlled by eastern Europeans, mostly of the Jewish faith. Because of the persecution the Jews have suffered through history, they needed to be ready to move at any time, and diamonds were a source of wealth they could easily carry and transport.

Conversely, Indians and Pakistanis were purveyors of colored stones and gold. Many cultures, including those of the mid-east, Arabic and Asian countries, continue to sell gold as portable wealth. Typically, the jewelry that is worn is high karat (21k to 24k) and in fairly uniform weights for easy transportation and a “savings account” that can be worn.

Today’s example of portable wealth is characterized as Indian wedding jewelry. These chandelier earrings weigh exactly ½ ounce, and as noted, the necklaces, bracelets and earrings of many cultures weigh exactly ¼, ½ or 1 ounce. The colorful pieces are just enamel or glass, and that is typical – because their value is meant to be determined by their gold content. The theory is that the wearer would always have a half an ounce of gold on them, no matter what the circumstances.

While some very early examples carry a high premium, 99 percent of this type of jewelry – whether Indian wedding, Asian baht or Moroccan fanciful jewelry – just brings gold weight when sold.

You have seen us in Forbes Magazine, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Three former Sothebys.com associates, two art historians and 6 GIA Graduates on staff.

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