A Jewelry Guide for a Pakistani Girl

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Hi Guys! Like my previous post on designer sarees (See HERE) describes, sarees along with gold jewelry is something that a girl collects from a very young age. There is something timeless about gold and sarees that consequently make them sensible heirloom pieces for future generations. One of the first pieces of jewelry a Pakistani girl receives are gold earrings. Gold and eastern women go together like peanut butter and jelly. A girl spends her whole life accruing pieces for her collection and I was no different. I don’t remember what was the first piece of jewelry I owned, but I do know that my grandfather bought me gold jewelry even before I had my ears pierced.

I am hesitant to encourage that girls only collect jewelry for their dowry. Traditionally, parents save money for their daughters and sons and when it is time to get them married, they gift their daughters and daughter-in-law’s gold. Always a status symbol, today many independent women invest in pieces that reflects their individuality not just the tradition. Gold comes in a variety of colors, cuts, and even gems. According to their weight, size, and color, gold sets can be light enough to wear at parties and heavy enough for weddings. Some women even choose to wear light gold studs and gold hoop earrings at work. However, gold is still primarily reserved for wedding events.

After a lot of thinking about what my next post should be about, I decided to write some guidelines for the modern Pakistani bride. While some brides start their collection early, some choose to wait till their wedding approaches to invest in gold. Either way is fine as long as it suits your budget needs. I am lucky to own many gold sets, but during my research, I found I am still missing a few key pieces ;).

Anyways, here is an introduction to gold available in Pakistan (and India ) that a bride can consider having in her trousseau for her wedding day and years after:

1. One Complete Set: A set by Pakistani standards includes earrings, a necklace, and a ring. You can choose to go light or opt out from buying the ring if you are on a budget. You can experiment with gems and even different ways the gold is molded. Some go for a more modern look, while I try to go for the traditional. There is nothing wrong with either; since it is an important and expensive investment, go with your personal preference, style, and budget. I would recommend going with pearls and gold because that combination goes with EVERYTHING.

2. A Jhoomer: This is a bit of a splurge, but in my opinion cements you as a quintessential bride. Jhoomers were a big fashion statement back in the day, but they disappeared for a while. People started concentrating matha pattis and teekas to adorn their foreheads instead. Comfort is what you need to consider because jhoomer’s are large and if you don’t foresee yourself wearing them past your wedding, then don’t get it. However, they are a beautiful and ornate statement piece for your wedding and any wedding for that matter.

3. Teeka: This lovely piece of jewelry is an essential addition to your bridal trousseau. Like a jhoomer, a teeka frames a bride’s face. If budget is a consideration point, then you need to choose between a jhoomer and a teeka and I recommend you go with the latter. Many people buy a simple gold and pearl teeka which complements every color outfit. You totally can rock a Mughal look with a delicate teeka adorning your forehead.

4. Jhumke with Sahare: I was really smart when I started my collection. One of my first gold major gold purchases was a kundan, pearl, and gold set. I wanted something timeless, classic, and traditional (you cannot go wrong with that combination) and that set met all those checkpoints. That particular set had large jhumke with pearl sahare. Sahare are “strings” made of gold or gems that are attached to jhumke aka earrings. You can pin these sahare in your hair or behind your ear. They go with everything from ghararas, lenghas, peshwas, to sarees.

5. Sath Lara: This necklace, like the jhoomer, is a splurge. I don’t know the roots or history of this particular jewelry, but it was definitely worn during the Mughal era. A sath lara is a long necklace made with seven mini-necklaces, hence the name sath (seven) lara (strands). To be honest, when I was younger, I didn’t care for it. To me, it was too expensive and looked a bit fussy on brides. But these days, the necklace style has changed and they come in light-weight gems rather than plain heavy gold. If you talk to your dress designer that you will wear one, they can customize their designs to suit this exquisite piece of jewelry. A splurge and not essential in my opinion.

5. Rings: My philosophy about rings have remained the same since I was a teenager–don’t want them. I think rings are completely meaningless, unless its your engagement and wedding ring. I don’t want to fuss about it so whenever I go gold shopping, I choose not to buy a ring. If you like rings invest in some statement pieces that work as a stand-alone. But you certainly don’t need a ring for each gold set you own. It’s a waste of money in my opinion.

7. Bangles: Traditionally, gold bangles are a symbol of wedded bliss and wedded women wear them on a daily basis. I have a very sentimental story about my gold bangles. None of my grandmother nor my mother’s gold bangles fit my wrists. So in 2005, when we were visiting Sadder, which is the gold capital of Karachi, I just strolled into a gold shop with no intention to buy anything. One of the first pieces I liked was this jhoomer. Aishwarya Rai’s “Kajra Re” was a big hit during this time and I wanted a jhoomer. My aunt and mom were like um… no. They said get something else. So slightly disappointed yet not ignoring their generosity, I looked through the gold bangles section and then fell in love with these rather modern-looking gold bangles. I looked at others, but nothing compared to the ones I was holding in my hand. And that’s how I came to own my very own gold bangles.

So above were some pieces you as a bride can invest in. Now comes the tough part– selecting the stones. Below I have listed some most popular stones that complement a variety of outfits. The budget needs to be a factor so negotiate a price point and then the purchase wisely.

If you want to make your jewelry colorful and less expensive, consider the following gems as alternates to pure gold:

1. Emerald: The name comes from the old French word ‘esmeralde’, which was derived from the Greek word ‘smaragdos’ meaning ‘green stone’. The combination of green and gold is stunning. If your wedding dress is red, purple, or gold then I recommend this combination.

2. Ruby: In the ancient Indian language of Sanskrit, ruby is called “ratnaraj”, which translates as “king of precious stones”. Ancient Sanskrit texts, the Bible, and other historical writings refer to ruby as a precious gem, indicating the rich history and abiding appreciation of ruby gemstone. Ruby and gold is another winning combination. If your bridal or formal dress is green, blue, or shades of pink, then wear this stone.

3. Sapphire: The name sapphire comes from the Persian word safir, derived from the Greek word for blue. Sapphire comes in a variety of colors, but the most well-known is blue. Blue and gold is a stunning combination and can be worn for any occasion. There is a myth in my culture that Sapphire suits the energy of only certain people. If you don’t believe in that myth, then invest in Sapphire jewelry. Sapphire and gold go with basically any color; Green, red, white, light blue, you name it.

4. Pearls:  The name “pearl” is said to have originated from the Middle English word “perle”, which in turn came from the Latin word “perna” meaning “leg”. Pearl and gold is a classic combination. Because of the white color, pearls can complement any tone or color. Your first gold purchase should definitely be a pearl and gold set.

5. Diamonds: If you are a millionaire’s offspring, then purchase a diamond set. Needless to say, they don’t come cheap. To be honest, besides the engagement ring, I am not fascinated by diamonds or have the desire of owning a lot of them. The only time I would think about getting a diamond set is if I had the money and my bridal dress had silver work on it. Other than that, I am happy with my gold.

There are other semi-precious stones that are fun to own. Look into the following stones. They come in a variety of colors and cuts:

1. Amethyst

2. Moonstone/Cat’s Eye

3. Topaz

4. Tourmaline

5. Peridot

Okay guys. Here is my guide to help you through this fun aspect of bridal shopping. Honestly, I know many people out of their way to buy gold because they think it will make them happy. However, the real happiness should come from inside and if you cannot afford sets of gold and gem, understand there are wonderful alternatives available in Pakistan markets. So always keep your budget in mind. Happy shopping!