Friday, 31 May 2013

A Rosary of Wishing Jewels


A waist ornament with bells on either side fashioned from hollow sheet gold; the form of the centre pendant identifies the wearer as a male child.Integral to the Indian 'way of life', jewellery was worn by men, women and children, and served a purpose beyond the gratification of the visual senses. In its design, its motifs, and the very act of wearing, jewellery expresses the essence of Indian spirituality and emits metaphorical signals in a code that is immediately comprehensible to the initiated. In a country that is historically ancient, geographically vast and culturally diverse, jewellery has perhaps been one of the great unifying factors. Meanings and forms, symbols and expressions that form part of the language of ornament, flow freely past barriers of caste and religion.

As in other human cultures of the world, in India too, jewellery was the earliest art form fashioned by man. The skin and bones of h tinted animals were intended not solely to clothe, but as a form of adornment symbolizing valour and courage. The tooth of the tiger that man killed hung around his neck to signify his triumph over the beast, and thereby ensured him a position within the community. In the course of time, jewellery communicated messages of love, hate, power, hierarchy, aggression, pride, birth, virginity, maleness, femaleness, marriage, widowhood and so on. Magic and powers of healing, good and bad luck came to be associated with gemstones and jewellery forms. Jewels functioned as a barometer of the wealth and status of the individual. The royals wore many magnificent ornaments as emblems of their rank. Specific firms such as head fillets and crowns were exclusively identified as signs of authority and omnipotence, their use limited to those who governed. More than any other material product, gold and jewels became associated with the four aspects of life that most intimately concerned mankind power, wealth, religion and health. 

Black glass beads strung on fine gold wire are believed to be the most basic and potent tools to ward off evil spirits.
In classical Indian literature, individual items of jewellery were integral to the development of a plot or served as links in the story line. In the Ramayana, for example, on Sita's wedding day, her father King Janaka presented her with the head ornament (chudamani) that he himself had received from Kubera, the God of Wealth. The jewel became a symbol of herself, which she later sent to Rama, through Hallman, to conlitan their meeting. The story of Shakuntala and Dushyanta revolves around a signet ring, its loss causing Dushyanta to lose his memory, and its reappearance resulting in total recall. In the Shilappadikaram, it is the golden anklet, and in the Manimekkalai, it is the jewelled girdle which plays a key role. In the Mahabharata, in the famous gambling session between the Pandavas and Kauravas at Hastinapur, the first loss that Yuddhisthira suffered was a pearl, and then many more ornaments and gems, until the final loss of the kingdom.

The Incorruptible Metal

Irrespective of social standing or wealth, gold is coveted and worn by all in India. Even amongst the poor, who usually wear ornaments of silver, brass and bronze, a pair of simple earrings, a bangle, an amulet or the marriage tali of gold is mandatory. As a symbol of the goddess Lakshmi, who is said to preside over the "jewels and precious metals in the womb of the earth," gold personifies wealth. 

Such pendants set with the nine auspicious gems (navaratna) were worn as armbands and were intended to protect the wearer from negative planetary influences. The reverse is enamelled.The ancients referred to gold by many names. The Amarakosha, for example, lists no less than eighteen synonyms for gold;' suvarnam, that which has a beautiful colour, and hiranyam, that which is deer-coloured, were the most frequently used terms. The Sanskrit word for semen is also hiranyam. By inference therefore, gold was synonymous with life, and wearing some gold at all times was believed to ensure long life. Endowed with the properties of tejas or energy, varchas or brilliance and satyam or truth, the metal was an important prerequisite in the ritualistic context of Hindu religion.

Gold proffered as offering (dakshina) could obtain for the giver amritatvam, "the state of durability and security in which one is free from death." The purificatory potency of gold is enumerated in the Dharma Shastras, which state that penance could be performed by 'eating' gold.' Texts prescribing rituals provide that "a man who regularly performs his agnihotra ( rituals) may, when his wife comes to die, remain a widower and perform that rite by having a golden effigy of his wife or one made of kusa grass. Here gold which is regarded as a symbol of life takes the place of a person who is no longer alive." 

The classically simple gold bangle is fastened with an elegant flower screw.
Specific ornaments came to be associated with rituals in India. Rosaries (japa malas) made of rudraksha beads (the seeds from the fruit of the Elaeocarpus angustifolius tree) and those strung with the nine planetary gems (navaratna malas) were used for the repetition of mantras. The wearing of the gowrishankaram necklace was obligatory in the performance of rituals among followers of Shiva in Tamil Nadu. The pavitri, a purificatory ring made of kusa grass or of gold set with the nine planetary gems, was compulsorily worn by men when performing rituals. In the Harshacharita, Rajyavardhana "wore a pavitri in place of an earring inlaid with a sapphire. It seems that on account of grief at the demise of his father, Prabhakaravardhana, he gave up wearing precious ornaments but for the performance of ritual he wore ordinary ear ornaments purified by the recitation of Vedic hymns."

The Rites of Passage

In each of the sacraments (samskaras) that mark the stages in an individual's journey through life, there are specific ceremonies to invoke the blessings of the gods. The ceremonial wearing of a prescribed ornament played an integral role in these rites of passage. The presence or absence of the ornament is essential either as a statement of entry into the stage of life or as an emblem marking the transition from one stage to the next. The origin of such prescriptions lay in the belief that every person goes through uncertain times as he travels through life, when he requires the aid of something powerful to deflect the negative vibrations of the planets and his environment, and above all, to counteract the evil eye. 

A double-headed eagle pendant in gold, set with diamonds, emeralds and rubies, is shown on the preceding page. The reverse is plain except for a central repousse medallion depicting the goddess Lakshmi. The double-headed eagle is the insignia of the Mysore royal family, and this pendant is believed to have once been in the collection of Sri Krishna Raja Wodeyar, the Maharaja of Mysore. In the sixth or seventh month of a woman's first pregnancy, the expectant mother undergoes the simantonnayana rite or the parting of her hair. She is bedecked with jewels and special charms and lockets to protect her and the unborn child. In south India, protective bangles (valai kappu) made of gold intended to "set positive power in motion"' arc placed on her arms. Black beads and elephant hair, specially recommended for their evil-repelling qualities, are often incorporated into these bangles.

The Sankbayana Gribya Sutra prescribes that seven days after the birth of a child, a gold spoon should be used to feed the infant a mixture of butter, honey, milk, curd and water. A tiny piece of gold is tied around the right hand to confer intelligence and longevity. Bangles of gold, silver and copper arc placed on the small arm, while a simple black thread, the arai sbalangai or aranal (378, 380b), with amuletic leaf-shaped pendants and lockets, is tied around the waist. Among many communities, the dried umbilical cord of the newborn child is encased in one of these lockets, thereby re-establishing a lifeline with the mother in the early months after birth.

Nothing less than a gold spoon is prescribed to feed a young child with rice for the first time, in the annaprasana ceremony; the girl child in particular is adorned with special ornaments commemorating the weaning process. Around this time, within the first twelve months of birth, the karnaredha or ear-piercing ceremony is pertbrmed. The practice of piercing the ears of both males and females was intended to denote entry into this world and as protection against disease. The ceremony itself was a late addition to the prescribed list of Hindu sacraments, with religious sanctions attached to non-compliance. Devala, a mediaeval Smrti writer says, "All the accumulated merits disappear at the sight of a Brahmana, through whose ear-lobes do not pass the rays of the Sun." The simple single-stone ear-studs (kadukkan) worn by men of the south, were intended to illuminate their path on the arduous journey through life.

The term for the jewel translates: 'banyan leaf lower waist bell chain', in this example of royal provenance, intended for a girl child, the pendant, in the shape of a banyan leaf, is set with uncut diamonds, the reverse finely-worked in repousse with a Tree of Life motif; the bell-shaped units on either side are encrusted with cabuchon rubies, The sacred banyan tree is associated with longevity, prosperity and good health.The entry of a young male into the period of learning and instruction in the Vedas is consecrated in the upanayanam or sacred thread ceremony. lit ancient India, both men and women went through the rites and were invested with the sacred thread (yagnopavita), which consisted of one or more sets of three cotton cords, tied together by a knot called the brahmagranthi, symbolic of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Amulets housing written mantras, plaques with inscriptions and elaborate terminals often decorate the sacred thread. While the divine and royal wore a gold yagnopavita, the common man wore one fashioned from cotton threads. Among royalty, the yagnopavita was in the form of several gold chains, and its presence is nconspicuous in early Indian sculptures. When the period of study was completed, the individual was given two earrings, forbidden during the period of studentship, fashioned from perfbrated pellets of sandalwood or of badari wood overlaid with gold,") embodying long life, wealth and success.

Oblong gold lac-filled repousse pendants depicting the goddess Lakshmi and demon face motifs, with alternate crescent and palmette-shaped terminals; the large central boss-shaped tali emblem surmounted with an image of the goddess Gaialakshmi flanked by elephants is inscribed: "Captured from a Singh Sindan, at the Battle of Sabraon on the 106 of February 1845, by Robert Henry Hastings of the 59' Native Infantry." The two hair ornaments set with cabuchon rubies symbolize the sun and the moon. If upanayana is the most important ritual in the life of a male, vivant or marriage is the principal sacrament for a woman. On this occasion, a woman received her stridhan, mostly in the form of gold and jewels her personal property to use in times of need. Numerous ceremonies associated with the wearing of ornaments are performed, both for men and women, in the course of the many rituals related to marriage. The functions commence with the tying of golden-coloured threads around the wrists of the bride and groom, and end with the placing of toe-rings on the feet of the bride. But of the many ornaments associated with a woman's married status, the tirumangalyam, or the mangalasutra, the auspicious marriage necklace, is undoubtedly the most important. It is also the only ornament that an unmarried woman is not permitted to wear.

When the Indian reaches the twilight of his life, the ancient texts recommend simplicity and austerity, in preparation for the journey to rebirth. Ornaments take the form of rudraksha and tulsi beads, or simple items made of gold. Finally, in the funeral ceremonies (antyesti samskara), little pieces of gold are placed "on all seven openings of the head of a deceased person." Gold, which heralded new life, now transports the departed soul. The Vedas regarded gold as equivalent to prana, the vital breath.

Writer – Usha R Bala Krishnan and Meera Sushil Kumar

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Yttrium Aluminium Garnet

4.8 cm bar of colorless YAG. Aluminate of yttrium and aluminium with a garnet type structure it is an artificial product with no natural counterpart

Crystal system

Cubic

Appearance 

It is produced by the Czochralsky process according to which crystals in the form of cylindrical rods about 4-5 centimeters in diameter and 20 centimeters long are "pulled" from the melt. It is perfectly transparent and colorless, but green, yellow and blue forms have also been produced by adding small quantities of other elements.

Physical properties 

It has a hardness of slightly more than 8. The density is about 4.55 9/cm3. The refractive index of 1.83 is quite high, but much less than that of diamond and cubic zirconia. The dispersion of 0.028 is tar lower than that of diamond.

Production  

It is mainly produced in the United States.

YAG (colorless)

This was the chief substitute for diamond in the 1960s. It has now been replaced by other products, mainly cubic zirconia.

Appearance 

Perfectly transparent and colorless and singly refractive like diamond, it is usually seen cut into brilliants; more rarely, it is given a step cut. Its luster is about the same as that of colorless zircon and greater than that of corundum and spinet. Being hard but not brittle, it is easily given a high polish and sharply defined edges. But low dispersion makes these stones look a bit lifeless, particularly those with a step cut.

Distinctive features

Round brilliant of colorless YAG, 2.10 ct.Because YAG's refractive index is quite a bit lower than that of diamond, if a brilliant cut stone is viewed from above and tilted gradually, a characteristic dark area will appear in the table facet (opposite the ob-server), corresponding to certain facets of the pavilion which let the light through instead of reflecting it. Further-more, if the stone is viewed from the table facet (with a lens or microscope) the distinct reflections of the table and crown facets will not be visible as they are with diamond. Also, if step cut stones are placed upside down with the table facet resting on a printed page, the letters will be visible through it. The girdle is not finished like that of diamond; it is not cylindrical and is usually striated, as if it had been filed; yet, despite this rough finish, it looks fairly transparent. A hardness test using a corundum-tipped pencil, which is midway between the two, will readily distinguish YAG from diamond.

Cost

One of the lowest, equal to that of the least expensive synthetics The cost of the raw material is, in fact, very low and it is much quicker and easier to cut than diamond, being softer and without any tendency to brittleness.

Writer – Curzio Cipriani & Alessandro Borelli

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Piercing - An technique of making jewellery


1 Standard jeweler's saw; 2 jeweler's saw with adjustable frame for different lengths of saw blade; 3 saw blades. The jeweler's saw, sometimes called a piercing saw, is one of the most essential tools in a jeweler's workshop. At first, however, working with a jeweler's saw can be rather frustrating because the blades used are small and they can break easily. Sometimes a single blade will last for weeks; sometimes you will get through an entire pack in an afternoon. Don't worry it happens to everyone.

Blade sizes range from 4, through 0 to 06, which is the finest and is used with metal that is as thin as 0.3-0.4mm. Use a No. 4 blade for cutting metal 1/16 inch thick, or for cutting acrylic that is up to about 1/4 inch thick. Begin by practicing on a piece of metal about 1/32 inch thick and with a size No. 1 or 01 blade.

A coping saw is about one and a half times larger than a jeweler's saw, but it is used in the same way. A scroll saw is useful for cutting from a large sheet of metal as it enables you to cut your pattern without having to cut away small pieces or cut from many different angles.

Attaching a blade

Turn a corner by pushing the back edge of the blade against the outside edge of the metal.
Sit so that you can hold the handle of the saw in one hand and the blade in the other, and so that you can push the head of the saw against something solid, such as the side of your work bench.

Hold the blade with the teeth facing toward you but pointing down toward the handle of the saw. Run your fingers down the blade. If it feels smooth, the blade is correctly positioned; if it does not, turn it the other way up. Place the top end of the blade into the top anchor point of the saw and tighten it. Push the handle of the saw against the bench and fasten the lower end of the saw into the bottom anchor point. The blade should be taut before you start work.

Holding the saw

Hold the handle of the saw as lightly as possible and let the saw do the work. The cut is made on the down stroke, so try to develop a rhythm whereby the saw almost falls through the work and needs only a gentle hand to guide it up again. Keep it upright, so that the blade is at an angle of 90 to your work unless you are deliberately cutting an angle.

Using the saw

Hold the saw upright, with the blade just touching the line on the metal you wish to cut. Place the index finger of your other hand against the side of the saw and use it as a guide as you move the saw up and down and gently forward into the metal.

When you begin to use the jeweler's saw, you may find it helpful to cut between two close parallel lines. For example, when you are cutting a strip of metal to make a ring, set a pair of dividers to the required width, place one side of the dividers on the straight edge of the metal and use the other side of the dividers to draw a line parallel to it. Open Out the dividers by a further fraction, and draw a second line, parallel to the first. Pierce between the two lines.

You may also find it helpful to cut circles in this way at first. Use dividers to scribe the circle on the metal, open them a further fraction and scribe a second circle. Cut between the lines and use a file to clean up the edge down to the first scribed line.

Turning corners

To make the first cut, use your finger as a guide at the side of the blade and move the saw gently up and down until it has a purchase on the metal.
Cut to the edge of a corner and, while you keep the saw moving in rhythm, use the smooth back edge to work around the corner. Pretend be cutting backward and, once the corner is turned, continue with the forward movement.

Piercing out central areas

If the pattern has enclosed areas, use a small drill to make a hole in the corner of each area. Unfasten the bottom end of the blade, thread it through a hole, and refasten the blade tightly. Pierce out the area, undo the bottom end of the blade, and thread it through the next area to be removed.

Writer - Jinks McGrath

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

GIA Grooms Designers of The Future

GIA Grooms jewelryThe consumer demographic purchasing jewellery in India has undergone a noticeable change over the last decade. The customer today is younger, fashion savvy and design oriented; seeking out exclusive masterpieces each time they set foot in a store. In competitive retail markets, talented designers are essential to the jewellery business. Brands constantly look for jewellery designers who can translate their visions into reality and create a lasting connection with the consumer.

Supporting the creative side of the jewellery industry, Gemological Institute of America (GIA), the world's foremost authority in gemmology, has applied its expertise into jewellery design training. GIA's programmes help budding designers gain a professional edge, backing their talent and ability with globally recognised educational credentials.

The institute offers a comprehensive nine-week Jewelry Design (JD) Certificate programme. Participants gain an in-depth understanding of jewellery design theory and artistry, mastering the professional skills to illustrate their ideas and inspirations. The programme includes a visit to a jewellery manufacturing factory, which allows participants to see first-hand how design translates into the creation of jewellery pieces. 

Surat Diamond JewelleryGIA's five-day programme, SWIFT Jewellery Design, teaches the basic principles of design and composition. Participants gain an understanding of what goes into designing collections and the manufacturing and pricing of finished jewellery

From jewellery designers and jewellery manufacturers to hobbyists and entrepreneurs, GIA`s design courses enable participants to hone their talent and focus their interests.

G1A's next JD Certificate course is scheduled for April 18th at the Bandra Kuria Complex (BKC) in Mumbai and the next SWIFT Jewellery Design programme is scheduled for April 1st in New Delhi at GIA:s classroom, IIGJ -Jhandelwalan and on April 15th at BKC in Mumbai.

Sierra Leone's diamonds fuelled the 1991-2002 civil war, and are now boosting economic growth, but at the same time they are keeping thousands of children out of school.

At a mine resembling a lunar landscape outside Koidu town in Kono Region the diamond mining heartland in north-eastern Sierra Leone thousands of young men dig and shovel gravel in search of the precious stone.

"I had to support my family so I dropped out of school. When I could not find a job in my hometown1 came here," said 21-year-old Mumuni Diallo, who arrived in the mining fields when he was 17. 

Diamond Jewellery
"I am very tired. l have been digging this pit for months, but so far 1 have found nothing. Still, in mining, every day is a new possibility," said Diallo, explaining that he was lured by tales of people striking riches.

About 70% of Leone's youth are unemployed. Twenty-year-old Alhadji Gborie, who left his hometown of Lungi near the capital Freetown for the mining fields, blames the government for failing to provide jobs.

"There is too much talk from the president. Let him come here and work for a day to see how it is," said Gborie, standing in a thigh-deep, muddy waterhole.

On November 17, Sierra Leoneans re-elected President Ernest Bai Koroma for a second term of office, helped by the fact that the country has seen extensive infrastructure improvement and economic growth in the past five years.

Driven by exports of gold, diamonds and iron ore, the country's economy will grow by up to 21.3% this year, according to the International Monetary Fund, but this wealth has yet to filter down to most ordinary Sierra Leoneans.

"In many families, children are becoming the breadwinners," Esate Konteh, from a local NGO in Kono Region, told IRIN. "When the civil war ended in 2002, many families had lost one or two parents. Some of them had their limbs amputated and could not work or were not eligible for employment:

Children are paid 10,000-20,000 leones ($3-6) a day and 40,000 leones if they find diamonds. In Kenema, to the east of the capital, and Koidu around 3,000 children are estimated to be working in the mines, but there are no official figures and the number might be much higher, Konteh said. Youths work either in mines, open pit.

graff white diamond setRebels Seize Diamond Mining Areas in Central African Republic

A new alliance of three rebel groups in the Central African Republic (CAR), which has taken control of five towns in northern-central areas, could jeopardize a complex peace process that has been under way since 2007.

The rebel alliance seized control of the northern towns of Ndele and Bamingui in the last few days, and has now also seized Bria, a central-northern town in the country's diamond-mining area. On December 18, 2012 following an appeal from CAR President Francois Bozize, Chadian troops entered CAR to join the government army in re-taking the captured towns. In a statement sent to AFP on December 17, the alliance said that unless Bozize's administration agrees to discuss their grievances over peace terms, the insurgents will do all they can "to change, sooner or later, this predatory regime".

The towns in rebel hands are Ndele, Sam-Ouandja, Ouadda, Bamingui and Bria, hundreds of people have been displaced from their homes in Sam-Ouandja and Ndele. The organisation noted that the towns' residents faced "restricted access to assistance and social services, and loss of personal belongings and livelihoods".

Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), the Danish Refugee Council, and the French Red Cross, which work in Ndele and other nearby towns, have evacuated their staff to the capital, Bangui. MSF is maintaining a minimum presence at the hospital in Ndele.

"The humanitarian community is deeply concerned about the humanitarian impact on the civilian population and urges all parties to observe strictly international humanitarian law, ensure that humanitarian access and space are unhindered as well as protect civilian lives and livelihoods," Modibo Toure, acting UN resident and humanitarian coordinator in CAR, said in a December 18 statement.

Thierry Vircoulon, Central Africa project director for the think tank International Crisis Group, told IRIN that the rebels were "progressing quite fast and they constitute a real threat for the regime".

"They managed to unite and they are sufficiently well-equipped to challenge the CAR'S army and, except for the Chadian army, no force can prevent them from taking the road to Bangui at this stage," he said.

Rebel demands

gia color scaleAn earlier alliance statement sent out a lei list of political and military demands and made a cessation of hostilities condition a on the government's agreement to hold talks with them.

The rebels want: the implementation of the recommendations of the Inclusive Political Dialogue, which was held in 2008 among government, civil society, the opposition and the rebels; financial compensation for the rebels; the release of political prisoners; and the opening of an investigation into the disappearance o former CPR (Convention of Patriots for Justice and Peace) leader Charles Massi and other "crimes':

The statement denounced, among other things, "the exclusion and the contempt, the favouritism and the tribalism" of the head of state and his family, as well as "the looting of the wealth of Central Africans by the government authorities who are supposed to protect them”.

Irish Ring
The authorities have not responded officially to the seizure of Bamingui or Bria, or to the creation of the new alliance, though the latest army communiqué, dated December 12, noted the rebel capture of Ndele. The capture of these towns is a direct challenge to the government," Vircoulon said. "The demands of the rebels are very clear and illustrate a high level of dissatisfaction with the peace process. They basically consider that the peace process is unfinished business and needs to be reactivated."

The new politico-military alliance is called Seleka CPSK-CIIP-UFDR, and was officially launched in a press release signed by the three leaders on December 16.1t is made up of the Wa Kodro Salute Patriotic Convention (CPSK), chaired by Nureldine Adam; CPJP, chaired by Dhaffane Mohamed Moussa; and a dissident faction of the Union of Democratic Forces for Unity (UFDR), chaired by Michel Djotodja.

The first two groups have signed peace deals with the government and were supposed to have laid down their arms.

Jewellery SetA number of government soldiers have been captured or are missing. Twenty-two soldiers captured during the seizure of Sam-Ouandja on December 10 are still in the hands of their captors. Additionally, between 10 and 30 are untraceable since the fall of Bamingui, according to sources that also mention the disappearance of vehicles and other military equipment.

This sudden resurgence of hostilities in northern CAR could jeopardise the peace process and the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the government and three rebel movements APRD (Popular Army for the Restoration of Democracy); UFR (Union of Republican Forces); and UFDR.