It all began over 250 years ago in Pratapgarh, a small kingdom in Rajasthan, with a Raj Soni (royal goldsmith) by the name of Nathuni Sonewalla.
It is his descendants that make up the community of artisans who produce the most skilled thewa work today.
It is said the technique established as fathers passed it to their sons, who started learning it at around the age of five.
Thewa refers to the art of fusing a patterned 24K gold foil sheet to colored glass.
The outline of the design is etched into the gold sheet with a steel scriber (needle like instrument). The glass colors are almost always red, green or blue to resemble gemstones like ruby, emerald and sapphire.
The designs in thewa usually include mythological depictions or royalty-inspired themes like hunting, gardens, birds and foliage.
The thewa artisans hold their tradition close to their hearts and are proud of the technique they’ve mastered and refuse to share their secrets; so much that even the sons and daughters in law of the families are not allowed to step into the workspace of these thewa artisans. They refused to give details about their techniques even to British researchers in the 19th century!
Their secrecy is the reason why it is only the descendants of this family and their extended family who possess the utmost level of perfection to practice thewa and hence, this technique is on the verge of soon becoming extinct.
A box with a depiction of the hindu deity Lord Shrinathji, now found in the national Museum, Delhi
The British seemed to be huge fans of this art form. Items with thewa work were taken as gifts for women and as souvenirs to Europe from India. This is why Thewa work flourished in the Victorian times. Resemblances and inspirations from thewa can be seen in some Victorian jewelry too. While the Europeans preferred articles like brooches, cufflinks and buttons, Indians have been seen to don more of belts, necklaces and pendants.
Apart from jewelry items such as choker, cufflinks and earrings, thewa can even be seen making an appearance on antique decorative household items such as paan dibbis, trays, rose water sprinklers, vases, jewelry boxes, etc.
Being a team of jewelry geeks, we had to pay our homage to this wonderful art form. Afterall, there’s a certain feeling of pride to being from a country so rich in handcrafted jewelry arts and crafts.
Take a look at some of our earrings featuring rich 24 karat gold thewa designs.
Handcrafted in gold and studded with diamonds, pearls and citrine gemstones, these earrings can take you from day to night. Be it a lunch gathering or a cocktails night, we see these gold earrings fit it all, don't you?
For all the gold lovers, a piece of luxury drenched in gold! The Waheeda Earrings feature a floral thewa design bordered with diamonds and accentuated with a citrine gemstone top. Statement fine earrings for your shirts, sarees and so much more!
Don't these remind you of the classic Victorian jewelry? With a border of diamonds and lots of gold, these luxurious designer studs feature a beautiful deep green, just like the dark hues antique Victorian jewelry came with.
Traditional Jewelry of India - Oppi Untracht