The history of Indian jewelry is 5,000 years old. It has value as a form of security and prestige for Indian women and an adornment for statues of gods, ceremonial elephants and horses. Many men use earrings, bracelets and pendants, but not as much as women.
The types of jewelry range from purely aesthetic to religious with uses in traditional dances, festival costumes, weddings and daily life. Women adorn themselves from their head down to their feet to emphasize their feminine beauty. Even the poorest women have jewelry. It signifies wealth, power and status for females who receive it on special occasions including birth, coming of age, marriage and becoming a mother. In times of financial need they can sell the jewelry.
Popular forms of Indian jewelry differ from state to state. Some forms of Indian jewelry that are basic to Indian women are bridal jewelry such as maang tikka, nose rings, mangala sutra, earrings and bangles. They are usually in gold and frequently studded with diamonds. Silver, platinum and other metals are increasing in use.
The tradition of crafting Indian jewelry is highly ornate, with pieces for almost all parts of the body. Wearers choose jewelry to match the occasion and their attire. Some forms of Indian jewelry design are antique, copper, fashion, filigree and ivory.