Silver metal is mixed with zinc to make it more malleable and ductile, easier to work with for making jewelry. Though most of the tribes who are the main consumers of this craft prefer their jewelry to be made with silver in its purest form, some like a bit of decoration in their ornaments. Materials like enamel, stones, shells, beads, lac, woolen threads, buttons and foil backed glass are sometimes used to embellish the beautiful designs. For soldering various metal pieces, a mixture of 'Surokahar', 'Takandkhar' and 'Navsar' (soldering material) is used.
There is no wastage as far as this craft is concerned. The leftover pieces or the pieces that go wrong are melted and reused for jewelry making.
Tools & Technology
Workbench- It is the craftsman's work table.
Bench vise- it is used to clamp the materials to the bench and prevent slippage while working.
Blowtorch- This is used to heat the silver wire pieces turning them into micro pellets.
Coiling machine- Is used to create tightly wound coils and to curve various jewelry pieces.
Light source- Used to light up the work-space due to the fine nature of the craft.
Goldsmith's Weights- The amount of silver to be used is precisely weighed with these weights.
Ruler- A measuring tool used to draw and measure the designs.
Ingot- Silver metal is bought in this form before being processed further.
Tongs- Used in handling the hot silver materials.
Furnace- Used to heat the silver ingots.
Chisel- Used in etching, carving and creating relief work on the metal sheets.
File- It is used to sharpen and create various shapes as well as define edges.
Wooden mallet- This is used to hammer the metal designs where light pressure is needed.
Hammer- This is used to hammer the metal designs where heavy pressure is needed.
Round end punch- This is used to create rounded shapes like the 'ghungru' (a small bell).
Samdni- A type of metal tweezers used to pick and place micro metal pieces in the design.
Kapdi- A metal cutting tool used to cut wires and sheets.
Aerund- This is a metal anvil with a hard surface on which another object is struck.
Pachchla- A metal dye with several sized concave spaces which are used to create various spherical and circular shapes.
Gudiyala- This is a pestle shaped metal tool used along with the pachchla. Sheets are pushed in the concave spaces of dye with the pestle.
Silver jewelry of Kutch is crafted using various techniques such as embossing, cutting, spring winding thin and thick wires to get conical shapes, beating patterns on the lacquer filled forms and making concentric wire filigrees with granulation.
Silver metal is bought in the form of ingots, which is melted and mixed with zinc into workable pieces. This metal is beaten into thin sheets which are cut into shapes with a metal cutter called 'Kapdi'. These sheets are placed on a well-lit work table, where the craftsman works delicate designs on them using the above mentioned techniques. Small metal sheet pieces are embossed with designs using various shaping tools such as the 'Pachchla' and 'Gudiyala'. For intricate designs requiring small micro pellets, small pieces of wire are torched with a flame as they curve into balls. These micro pieces are dipped in a solution made with 'Surokahar', 'Takandkhar' and 'Navsar'. These dipped pieces are then soldered on the design with a blow torch. In this way different details and parts of the design are created and painstakingly attaching them on the work pieces. Most designs are made using only silver but some pieces are studded with colourful materials such as glass beads, shells, lac, stones, enamel, coins etc. to create vibrant designs. Some tribal craftsmen also use organic materials such as cowries, dried grass, seeds, and berries creating unique designs. After the final designs are complete they are polished with emery paper and acid washes, giving it a brilliant shine. For earrings and necklaces, thinly wound coils are made with a coiling machine, while spheres are made using a round ended punch or a 'Pachchla'.
The craftsman's skills are visible in the amount of detailing and finish of the final product. This intricate craft is loved by the tribes of Kutch, who have adopted the jewelry as their identity with different designs unique to each tribe. These are treasured as family heirlooms and handed down the generations.