Origin: The history of enchanting pearls can be traced back to the Nizams period. Nizams who ruled Hyderabad for around 200 years, from the 18th century to the 20th century, patronized the trading of pearls. The opulent and ostentatious Nizams imported rare pearls and skilled pearl making artisans from across the globe, especially the Arabian Gulf.
Historical reference indicate that magnificent pearls struck a chord with Mughals too. They brought in gorgeous rare pieces from Australia, USSR, Belgium, China, Europe and other part of world. Since then, the tradition of importing pearls has become the business of pearls.
Since ancient times, the talented artisans of Hyderabad use pearl as an instrument to craft jewellery, bidriware, wooden carvings of Hindu gods etc. Since ages, it is home to the largest number of pearl drilling centres in the entire world.
Hyderabad has been crowned with the title of City of Pearls in India. It does full justice to this title, thanks to its 400 year old pearl processing and trading industry.
Present Day: The capital city of the state, Hyderabad, continues to be the epicentre for pearl trade in India. The pearl industry is growing by leaps and bounds, generating employment opportunities, revenue and increasing exports.
Chandanpet, an artistic village outside Hyderabad, is home to the pearl making artisans for decades. This entire village has dedicated its life to drilling and processing of pearls. It is home to the best artisans who are exceptionally skilled in hand drilling technique that they learnt from their ancestors.
Here, craftsmen who have received the technique as part of their inheritance transform pearl pieces into spectacular jewellery items. Their work defines the beauty of simplicity and hand work. The artisans connect with pearls and say it is their love for the technique that adds the magic.
The famous Hyderabadi pearl jewellery is available in different shapes, sizes and colours. However, white coloured pearls carry the stamp of purity. Radiance, contour and size govern the cost of pearls. As a thumb rule, check the lustre only in day light. To check for the authenticity of pearls, rub them against your teeth’s edge. Genuine pearls are equal to rough sensation and fakes lend a smooth feel.
Hyderabadi pearls can be classified in three categories: original, cultured, and semi-cultured.
Procedure: To begin the pearl crafting process, the pearls are firstl drilled and then boiled for around four days in a row. This bleaches them and washes off any dusky shade they had. Post this, they are kept in the open to be kissed by the sun. For this they are placed in glass boxes with a mirror base. Lastly, the pearls are cleansed and graded in line with their shape, sheen, glaze, lustre, and size.
Bring Home Pearl Craft of Andhra Pradesh: The first documented pearl shop of the city of pearls dates back to 1906 and is titled Seth Kedarnathji Motiwale. Walk around the Pathergatti road and you will be greeted by multiple pearl shops. Also, check out the pearl craft market in Basheer Bagh, Moazzam, Nampally, Koti Sultan Bazaar, Jahi Market, Begum Bazaar, Madina Market, Pot Market, and Laad Bazaar.