Hyderabad, the pearls capital of India

Hyderabad, the pearls capital of India

Submitted by alvin on Fri, 2016-08-26 10:36 Have you ever wondered about the strangenessin connection between pearls and Hyderabad? The connection seems to be strange enough because the pearlcity Hyderabad is almost 350km away from sea, which is the natural source of beautiful pearls.Well…Hyderabad doesn’t produce its own pearls. It sources pearls from outside, refines them, turns them into beautiful jewelries and markets them. The pearl trading in Hyderabad dates back to Nizam’s era.Nizams’ who ruled Hyderabad for 2 centuries were big connoisseurs of all kinds of craftsmanship. They had a great taste for jewelry, gems, and precious stones. Golconda had the famous diamond mines which yielded many world famous unique diamonds including, the hope and Kohinoor. These precious stones were believed to have been mined at the time of Kakatiyas . This legacy eventually made Golconda the biggest diamond and gems market in the 17th and 18th centuries. Fond of pearls, the Nizams lured many artisans from around the world, especially from the Middle East, which was at that time famous for its finest natural pearls - to settle down in Hyderabad. This naturally attracted the raw pearl dealers and thus a famous pearl market took shape.  Most of those priceless diamonds of Golconda have now left India to reach many other parts of world. Colonial and post-colonial India lost those gems. But the pearl’s market has survived the test of time. Those artisans, who migrated to the city in 18th century have now made Hyderabad their home, helping the pearl market flourish. In olden days, the Basra pearls sourced from the Iraqi city of Basra dominated the market, and were famed for their unparallelled purity. Pearls from Sri Lanka (known as Ceylon at that time) were also very popular because of their high quality and uniform white colour. These two varieties of pearls can be seen till today, but very rarely. There are mainly two types of pearls – natural pearls, which are formed naturally and obtained from the oysters, and the artificially grown cultured pearls.  Hyderabad’s pearl market is now dominated by cultured pearls from China.The imported pearls are processed to make them suitable for ornaments. Chandanpeta village just outside Hyderabad is famous for pearl processing. The entire village can be seen involved in the delicate art of drilling the pearls. After drilling, pearls are boiled for 4 days, bleached, chemically treated and washed to get that translucent shine. Later, they are separated according to their quality. The quality of a pearl mainly depends on its shape, colour, size, thickness and luster. Spherical shaped pearls are rare and most expensive. Peals are basically seen in three shades - black, pink and white. Though white pearls are most preferred, pink and black pearls have their niche in the jewelry market.        China’s cultured pearls have become famous because of their affordability. Pearls are also imported from Japan, Indonesia, and Australia. But for natural pearls, traders depend on Tuticorin in India, Venezuela and Basra in Iraq.Pearls have become an integral part of Hyderabad’s cultural heritage, a must on the shopping list of tourists. Pearl trade in Hyderabad has an annual turnover of nearly 500 crores. And 40�f the business is attributed to the tourists. Charminar and Laad Bazar have become the epicenter of pearl trading in Hyderabad, with hundreds of jewellery shops. The pearl market is not complete without those artisans who sit on footpaths making cheap jewellery, and hawkers who sell plastic beads - the pearl lookalikes. Thus Hyderabad has become the pearl city of India without producing a single pearl of its own.