Besides its religious importance, Nathdwara, the abode of Shrinathji, is the second biggest producer of silver ornaments in Rajasthan after Jaipur. It is also a big market of artificial jewellery. The trend to wear artificial ornament has become popular as gold and silver are quite expensive and it is safer to go out wearing them.
Nowadays, as ladies like to match their dresses with their ornaments, costume jewellery that is made with shellac, shells and cheaper metals like zinc with rural designs has become popular. Ornaments made with gold and silver on one hand are graceful and on the other reveal prosperity. The rich go in for expensive jewellery while the rural and poor folk prefer the kind made with cheaper materials like zinc, copper, pearls, shellac and shells.
Some artificial jewellery is made in Nathdwara itself while other items are acquired from other places and assembled here. Generally, copper and silver ornaments are made and polished here. Geru polish is also done here. Also made here is jewellery with oxidized zinc, pearls and shellac. Nathdwara is famous for its Meenakari work and artificial Kundan. Men, women and children are engaged in this work that is believed to be about 500 years old. Though Nathdwara is a big tourist centre, there is not much bargaining and products are cheaper and of good quality. Most of the shops are near big temples that are thronged by devotees and tourists.
First of all copper is moulded in the shape of the desired items and then pieces of glass are studded on them. All the work is done by hand and no machinery is used. So it takes a lot of time and labour. Even then the income is not in proportion to it. Small workers have to depend on wholesalers. Products in large quantity are sent also to places outside the town.
A visit to Nathdwara is not just a pilgrimage but also an opportunity to buy moderately priced unique items like artificial jewellery.
(Source : Anjali Sahai)