The origin of the Thewa form of jewellery is said to be from Partabgarh (or Pratapgarh), a small province in Rajasthan. Unique to this small town, the Thewa art is a secretly guarded technique. It has been handed down from generation to generation of certain craftsmen who call themselves Raj Sonis.
Thewa locally means setting. It originated in the eighteenth century. This form of jewellery gained popularity among the British residing or visiting India at the time. The Victorian and Edwardian women of the time incorporated finely crafted Thewa pieces into their jewellery. It was often picked up as souvenirs and several magnificent pieces of this art form are found among estate jewellery.
Historians of the time often described this technique as “quasi” enameling or “imitation” enameling as the jewellery often resembles the enamel technique with its colored glass background. However the actual craft is very different from enameling which uses ground colored glass melted onto the metal.
The technique starts with fine gold sheets of the highest purity (24 Karat) patterned with the design. Traditional Indian subjects are often used as designs. The gold is worked on lac to enable the delicate openwork creation of the design. This is then heat fused on to a clean piece of glass with extreme care and skill. A bezel unit which is similar to the closed setting used in Kundan style of setting is created. This probably is the origin of the name of this craft form. A highly polished piece of foil which is made of silver or tin is placed inside the bezel unit to form a backing for the gold and glass unit. This increases the light passing through the glass and intensifies the color and brilliance of the piece. Sometimes the backing foil is also colored to improve the hue of the glass.
Today Thewa Jewellery is produced in several popular forms like necklaces, pendants, earrings etc. The art form is however unique and specialized. This makes every piece of Thewa Jewellery a treasure to possess.