Sunday, September 13, 2015

Resplendent in Pearls - A vintage inspired necklace


        Here`s a  necklace I made recently using seed beads , glass pearls and amethyst beads .It was for a challenge hosted by Perles Dent`Elles..You can see the most magnificent entries at the blog by other participants too . Here`s the link .    But while making this necklace , I had to write  about the memories it brought back . Nostalgic memories of  a very beautiful and Royal lady- my "Mom-in-law"

   She was very fashionable for her times , very fond of  dressing up.  I always used to marvel at the way she  maintained herself , no less than a Maharani (queen)   Her love for style and fashion , apart for her beautiful collection of pearls was inherited  from  her mother she often told me  . In the early days of my marriage, we both used to spend hours together chatting about our days in Bombay . We both were Bombayites ( from Mumbai) , and had to settle down in Chennai after marriage .  In her, I found a friend in a strange place away from home and my small family . She too had missed her family , so I think she understood how homesick I used to feel back then . There was no way to communicate with the family except a long distance call once a week , which had to be pre-booked and a letter occasionally.  And so both of us would spend hours in the afternoon ( no cable tv those days ) talking about our life in Bombay before marriage  and one such time she started talking her fondness for  pearls . And this is what I remember her telling me .

        The Maharanis  loved pearls which came all the way from Basra , and wore breathtakingly beautiful pearl necklaces strung with a number of precious stone embellishments . Diamonds , emeralds , rubies , sapphires and other precious stones carefully selected ,  added color to the luminescent pearls . Each necklace was designed and strung carefully by the master craftsman or Patwa of the royal court using silk as the stringing material .  The needles finer than human hair was used to string the pearls . It was so difficult to thread such a fine needle , that it took only the experienced patwa to add new thread if it snapped during the weaving . The pearls had very fine holes and so there was no way in which a thicker needle could be used. Therefore some bit of a string ( made from a single strand of silk ) was always kept threaded ( sometimes for years , till it frayed and broke ) and the new string was always added with a joint a few inches away from the needle .
materials used for stringing Pearls

An array of beading needles. Notice how fine the needle for pearl weaving is. The eye of the needle is round unlike the long eye of the size 16 beading needle. These needles are at least half a century old and have been preserved carefully . The silk floss is untwisted to facilitate easy threading .

  Carefully hand twisting the silk floss ,  the patwa ( the pearl weaver ) made the string on a flat table covered with velvet rolling it in such a way that the separate strands merged together and obtained a tight twist . This prevented the jewellery from breaking during wear and tear. Before stringing the patwa carefully washed the pearls in a herbal solution of soapnut ( aritha ) carefully and dried the pearls .

Grading pearls .

    The grading came next , and depending on the design to be woven , the sorting was done . If the pattern was intricate , it took days for the jewellery to be completed. Once it was made , the remaining pearls were stored in a white muslin cloth to prevent any damage ad the finished piece kept stored in velvet lined boxes. If not worn for sometime , the jewellery was aired , to preserve the luster of pearls , to prevent yellowing or discoloration , and also to prevent the string from fraying. Once in every few years the jewellery would be re-strung to prevent the loss of pearls by breakage of frayed threads. And after wearing , pearls always had to be carefully wiped with chamoise leather to wipe off perspiration which yellowed and damaged the pearls .
Pearls, all shiny and lustrous after washing with soap nut solution
   Her fondness of pearls had grown because of her father , she said . Having  a friend who came all the way from Basra to sell pearls in Bombay, her father bought pearls from him .  Being a frequent guest at their house, whenever he had a good collection , he would urge her parents to buy them for the family . Being one of the eight children , no doubt the collection got divided , but still she did inherit a small lot from her mother , which she lovingly wore on every occasion . And to ensure  that I too looked after the pearls with the same reverence , she repeatedly emphasized the care and handling pearls required . Here is the Necklace , she coveted the most, which she gifted me ., Halai Bhatia , Bhatia Lady , Vintage photograph of Beautiful Women

seed bead and pearl necklace

It is now four years since she passed away but I still miss her and whenever I look at her pictures , I am reminded by the words of advice she gave me . Each time I write a post , I  remember her love for jewellery . And the priceless advice she gave me .

She was no less than a Maharani in my eyes!



  1. Fabulous! I am in love with your work.

    1. Thanks for stopping by and commenting Indrani :)

    2. And now you know why I love stopping by your blog and reading all about those lovely places around the world. Those Souvenirs from Cordoba, Spain did catch my eye , haha !

  2. I dont know how I missed reading this post, but I absolutely loved it. I am reminded of the stories my grandmother used to tell me as a kid about diamonds and gemstones.

    1. Thanks Divya. Glad you liked the necklace .
      Like most Indian women my love for classic jewellery is also due to the influence of the women in my family. Each piece that I owe or create is a sentimental reflection of beautiful memories of time spent with previous generation. As you rightly said, such pieces always do remind you of loving warmth and caring , which is so precious in today`s World.

  3. Wow. Great work. Pearls are very much attractive. I love the classic collection of jewelry. Recently I purchased an Elegant Colorful Pearl Brace late which is made with the vintage pearl from Timeless Pearl online store for my sister. It's looking so pretty. Your necklace is so pretty. I just love it.


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