Beginners guide to South Indian jewelry


South Indian jewelry is known for its richness and heritage. Temple jewelry was used in Indian temples for dressing the idols of Gods and Goddesses. Later, this jewelry style was adopted by women practicing different dance forms such as Kuchipudi or Bharatanatyam. Over the years, the South Indian temple jewelry designs make a part of many bridal jewelry trousseaus.

Temple jewelry is considered auspicious in India and is believed to bring good luck. The most popular designs are that of Lord Ganesha and the sacred syllable OM.

Types of jewelry

The jewelry offered in various temples of South India includes the kasinasara or chain of coins, kadagas or bracelets, kankanas or wristlets, jjejjerankis or armlets, waistbands, tali or mangalsutras, and various types of kiritamukntas or headgears.

Designs and Motifs

The South Indian Temple jewelry is crafted by skilled jewelers and craftsmen. The crafting of this jewelry requires finesse and is a time taking process. Sometimes, the jewelry may even require up to a year to be delivered.

The stones used in this type of jewelry are Kemp stones. They are un-cut polished stones and precious and semi-precious stones.

The South Indian jewelry has retained most of its traditional designs and motifs. The double-headed eagle, called ‘gandabherunda’ is one such traditional motif.

The South Indian Temple jewelry have names based on the local flowers, such as ‘Tamarappu’ or lotus flower, ‘Kallippu’, and ‘Nerinchippu’. Some jewelry is also named after animals and birds, such as kokku or crane, tavalai or frog, amai or turtle, makara or crocodile, etc.

South Indian Bridal jewelry

Here are a few options for South Indian bridal Jewellery.

  • Classic Matha Patti: You can find MathaPattis in distinctive styles in South Indian jewelry such as NethiChuttimaang tikkas, temple jewelry, and even in Kundan or Polki. It comprises a pair of sun and moon hair brooches, popularly known as Chandrapirai or Suryapirai on either side of the maangtika. It is the most important part of a South Indian bride’s ensemble.

  • Necklaces: The Haarams, Pallakad chokers, Mango Maala, and Kaasumala are a must in every South Indian bridal ensemble. These necklaces have heavy and elaborate designs and are worn in layers.

  • Jhumkis: The bridal jewelry earrings are popularly called Jhumkis or Jhimkis in South India. They are available in various gemstones, Polki or Kundan.

  • Traditional nose ring: The MukkuPudaka or nose rings in South Indian jewelry are quite similar to the Maharashtrian nose rings. The South Indian nose rings are however mostly circular and not too big. Some South Indian brides also prefer septum rings. Septum rings are usually popular amongst Tamilian culture.

  • Waist belt: The Oddiyanam or Kamarbandh is usually heavily embellished. It not only enhances the look of the bride but also keeps the saree in place.

  • Hair Jewellery: The hair ornaments play an important role in a South Indian bride’s ensemble. Floral braid embellishments called Pellipoolajada has various temple jewelry brooches and enhances the look.

  • Bangles: South Indian kadas and chunky bracelets are exquisite and look stunning. The gold bangle models are decorated with various gemstones and have floral and animal motifs intricately carved upon them.

  • Vanki/Baaju Bandh: Traditionally known as vanki, the Baju Bandh is made in an inverted V-shape and is decorated with diamonds, pearls, and rubies.

One can also opt for anklets, toe rings, and ladies ring design in gold to complete the look.

The essence of South Indian jewelry lies in its timelessness. They are a great pick for Bridal jewelry and Bridal look and are also great to add to your jewelry collection.