Lac jewelry also referred to as lacquer jewelry originated in West Rajasthan and has since then gained popularity across India. It’s easy to find Lac jewelry in the local markets & old streets of Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udaipur etc. in versatile designs, which adds uniqueness to its beauty. Lac bangles for women in particular are considered auspicious for the newly married brides to the extent that it has become a ubiquitous accessory for the newly married.
As the team here was trying to dig out some details about this traditional craft, we realised that in spite of being such a unique craft, there’s very little information on the making of Lac jewellery. With the help of our partner artist Manisha Singh, our designer Aransha was able to uncover the process that goes behind the making of a lac bangle. So here it goes…
Lac is a thick semi-solid gummy substance acquired from a female insect (bug) named ‘Tachardia lacca‘ on trees in the forests of India and Thailand.
The process of making Lac jewelry is complex and requires high degree of precision. It has been passed on across generations of craftsmen engaged in the profession who still continue to keep the tradition alive and updated.
Lac (available as coins) is melted with limestone to prepare the base or a dough as they call it. Limestone is used to provide additional strength. Lac dough, which is the basic raw material is rolled before colouring and the coloured lac is applied on it.
It is then pressed with a flat wooden piece to make long thin stiff tubes and fix the same on the base of the wire bangle. After this, the bangle is slightly heated to attain the proper shape by rolling over a long round tool made of wood.
Bangles are again heated before embellishing. Semi-precious stones, glass beads, small broken mirror pieces etc are heated over a tin plate kept on a small burner. The base of the stones gets heated and thus easily melts the lac surface on which they are placed and stick thereafter cooling. They are picked up one at a time and stuck on the bangle.
And finally, these are ready to send to the local vendors to showcase and sell to the end consumers.
Lac jewelry is colourful and intricate. The designs constantly change in line with new trends and styles –as is the case with all fashion jewelry like – necklaces, bracelets, rings, earrings, etc. But the most common incarnation of lac jewelry stays as bangles, which are very popular in Rajasthan and Bihar.
Special thanks to our partner artist Manisha Singh of Studio Albeli for inputs on the process of making lac jewlery.