Hindu legend is that the entire world rests on the back of a tortoise, so it’s no surprise that turtles are often incorporated into Munnu The Gem Palace pieces.  Indeed, talismans and luck motifs play quite the role in the work of the late Munnu Kasliwal, as well as his predecessors and successors.  “We have motifs from the family archives that stretch back more than 200 years,” says Munnu's son, Siddharth. “It shows a true history of jewelry-making in India.”  The lotus, lovebirds, parakeets and yes, tortoises, all pop up time and again in the work as symbols of protection, charms for good fortune or amulets of love.

The most famous tortoise piece is the handbag, an Indo-Russian design with rose-cut diamonds on the inside and out with a detachable pave diamond chain.  The animal, carrying the weight of the world, represents stability.  The lotus, on the other hand, is symbolic of fortune in Buddhism. The flower is used in Munnu The Gem Palace’s traditional Mughal work, including a pair of amethyst and tourmaline drop earrings, but also in more modern pieces — like a thick gold cuff inlaid with tiny shimmering amethysts. 

Navaratna, the classic pairing together of nine gemstones that represent the planets in Hindu astrology, is another way in which many of the pieces were crafted to transcend the material world.  This combination in particular is thought to protect the wearer.

... many of the pieces were crafted to transcend the material world.

Another symbol that is meant to bring a certain energy to the piece and wearer is Ganesha, the elephant-headed deity known as the “remover of obstacles”.  Elephants, in general, are thought of as lucky charms.  A pair of diamond-encrusted elephant cufflinks with ruby cabochon eyes will send the wearer good fortune.

The meaning of these contextual symbols may not be obvious upon first glance, but they’re just another example of the holistic approach The Gem Palace brings to each fine item.

Discover the importance of movement in Munnu's designs.