Carnatic Constellation

By Umesh Nagappa

Tracing its origins to the 4th century, when diamonds were discovered in the region, the classical temple jewellery of South India has many centuries, and generations, of tradition behind it. Gold was the metal of choice for radiant south Indian brides, but essentially five colours (Gold, Diamond, Ruby, Emerald and Sapphire) form the colour palette. These ornaments are created using various motifs and architectural elements borrowed from South Indian temples and sculptures.

Most of the authentic temple jewellery is still cast in the traditional ‘lost wax’ technique, which originated on the banks of the Cauvery River. Displayed on these 22-karat-gold Carnatic beauties are motifs like the swan, eagle, lotuses, mythological figures, alongside temple sculptures and architectural patterns.

From Adigai, a necklace made of rubies, to a choker set in graded and bright rubies, Carnatic jewellery is full of heirloom pieces and fabled traditions that carry an alluring tale or two for the bride.


Sole inheritor of a bejewelled heritage, Umesh Nagappa runs the reins of perhaps the oldest (over a hundred year old ) and legendary jewellery house - Ganjam that is known for its awe-inspiring carnatic creations around the globe.

Umesh can further be reached at
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