The knowledge of hand-crafting gold jewellery is traditionally passed down from generation to generation within Indian goldsmith families of specific caste, who are known as “achari” or “kammalar” in Tamil Nadu. Apprentices usually learn the craft at a young age and hone their skills through the years. Though there may be cases of apprenticeships with master goldsmiths in the community, the craft is more often transmitted from father to son, or from uncles to nephews.
The process of making hand-crafted gold jewellery includes the melting of gold with a small burner. The goldsmith may then use tools such as tweezers to pick out the gold and place it in acid and water. The craftsmen would further shape and carve the gold in accordance to specific designs as requested by customers. Some craftsmen may choose to draw the design on a gold bar before carving the customised shapes.
In Singapore, there used to be a large number of Indian goldsmiths who had practiced their trade in the area of Buffalo Road during the 1950s. Customers included Indian and also Chinese families who would request customised jewellery for special occasions such as weddings and festive celebrations, and popular jewellery items would include necklaces, bracelets, rings and hair ornaments.
However, gold jewellery hand-crafted by Indian goldsmiths has dwindled through the years, as the production of such jewellery has increasingly been mechanised and there has been competing forms of other types of jewellery providers in the market.