For the bride, a wedding isn’t a wedding without bridal jewelry!
Bridal jewelry isn’t only about looking great on your wedding day – although that’s part of it – it’s also a representation of custom and culture.
For different parts of the world, bridal jewelry is worn very differently. Let’s take a look at how three different cultures portray their tradition through bridal jewelry.
Indian Bridal Jewelry
For Indian women, wedding dresses are the accessory to their jewelry. They pride themselves on how much jewelry they can wear for their week of wedding festivities since it’s more focused on religion and culture.
It’s customary for the bride’s family to give the bridal jewelry to the wife-to-be – mind you; this includes extended family meaning down to the 3rd and 4th generations. That’s quite a lot of jewelry to accumulate!
Yellow gold is the metal of choice since it’s considered to be exceptionally sacred for Indian weddings. It’s adorned with precious jewels such as ruby, jade, garnet, amethyst, pearl and diamond that are designed to complement the wedding dress.
Other bridal pieces include waist bands, bracelets with rings, finger and toe rings, anklets, arm bands and nose rings that are often attached to the Maang Tikka – which is the thin, jewelled chain worn down the part-line in the centre of the woman’s head which hooks on hairs, resting in the centre of the forehead.[i]
An interesting cultural fact: Toe rings and gold earrings are designed and worn during the ceremonies to mark an Indian bride’s evolution from bride to wife. During the wedding, the mother of the bride again gives her daughter more jewelry called bangles.
These bangles are thin and most often gold that is welded closed to fit the bride’s wrist perfectly which must be worn 40 days after the wedding.
While that is the traditional length for wearing bangles, most Indian women continue wearing these bangles for the rest of their lives, much like other cultures wear engagement rings for the rest of their lives.
Sri Lankan Bridal Jewelry
Kandyan brides use precious metals and jewels quite differently than the Indian culture we just described.
Where Indians decorate every inch of their bodies with bridal jewelry, Sri Lankan women wear most of it within their traditional wedding sari.
If you’re not Sri Lankan, you may be wondering how someone can wear jewelry within a sari, right?
Here’s how: Kandyan women stitch their saris with gold and silver thread, using pearls, beads and jewels to sequin their wedding gown. Talk about creativity!
The most stunning Kandyan bridal jewelry piece is called a nalalpata, which is the traditional bridal headgear designed by early Kandyan Kings and to be worn only once and only by the bride on her wedding day.
It’s placed on the middle of the forehead with one stem extending down the middle parting of her hair and another two branches extending across the forehead to each ear.[ii]
Although these rich headgears were traditionally designed to incorporate red jewels, it’s now creatively handcrafted using different stones and jewels with a figure of the sun and moon placed on either side to represent eternal love and a fulfilling relationship.
An interesting cultural fact: Sri Lankans are very superstitious regarding numbers so you’ll never find a single piece of bridal jewelry containing an even amount of jewels or stones.
Not only do they consider odd numbers incredibly lucky, the number ‘7’ is considered the magical number and for this reason, Kandyan brides wear 7 pendants around their necks.
Swedish Bridal Jewelry
As with other cultures, Swedish brides wear extremely unique pieces of bridal jewelry.
Their most exquisite piece of jewelry is called the brudkronan. While it may look similar to a tiara to some people, it’s actually a true crown made up of silver, gold or brass. Because it’s a true crown, it’s created entirely of precious metals and adorned by precious jewels and stones making this headpiece quite heavy to wear.[iii]
The brudkronan is important to Swedish brides because it represents purity and virginity. Its history originates from the Catholic Church and more specifically, the Virgin Mary dating all the way back to the Middle Ages.
Since brudkronan’s require such a large amount of precious metals and jewels, these crowns are either passed down from generation to generation or donated to Catholic Churches for brides to rent or borrow on their wedding day.
An interesting cultural fact: Swedish women definitely luck out in the ring department!
Swedish brides wear not two rings, but three rings after completing their marriage vows. The first ring signifies engagement, the second ring represents matrimony and the third ring is for motherhood.
The point of explaining differences traditionally and culturally is to show you that bridal jewelry is valuable and an absolute must no matter which geographical location of the earth you live in.
Bridal jewelry is respected, honoured and admired whether it’s sewn into your wedding gown, worn in your nose or atop of your head.
Because of its significance and value, it’s passed down from generation to generation and treasured for lifetimes to come.
Picking bridal jewelry that not only complements your wedding gown, but yourself as an individual, is truly and without a doubt – priceless!