Polki vs. Kundan – What’s the Difference and Which Is Better? (Quick Guide)

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We often hear the names Polki and Kundan in relation to Indian jewelry types, but what’s the difference between them? While they’re quite similar in appearance, and are made using the same techniques, there’s a fundamental difference between these two varieties.

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In this quick guide, let’s take a look at how they’re similar and what makes them different. For a quick summary, scroll to the end of the article, but if you want all the details, keep reading.

Polki vs. Kundan – Jadau Jewelry

First things first, Jadau refers to the technique that is used in creating both Polki and Kundan jewelry types. Contrary to what many people believe, Jadau isn’t a type of jewelry in itself but simply the process.

What is Kundan Jewelry?

One of the most popular types of jewelry native to India, Kundan jewelry is made using highly refined, 24k gold, known as ‘kundan’ along with gemstones and glass. It’s a highly intense process and requires great skill and many hours.

The glass and gemstones are set into melted gold foils, which creates the base of the design. Gold is used around the edges of the gemstones or glass to give it a refined appearance, while Meenakari (an enamelling technique) is added to complete the piece.

Most authentic Kundan jewelry feature Meenakari artwork on the underside of the jewelry, making it wearable both ways. Not only did this make Kundan versatile but also stunningly beautiful and highly valuable.

Gold plated kundan necklace set, Indian jewelry
Affordable costume jewelry Kundan. See it here.

Because Kundan features 24k gold and is highly polished, it tends to be very lustrous. While you might think that because it’s got 24k gold, it’s highly valuable, this isn’t always the case. The actual gold content is very low, as the design showcases the stones rather than the metal. As a result, Kundan is not as expensive as it may look. However, some Kundan jewelry, like antiques, can command very high prices.  

You’ll also find lots of costume jewelry style kundan that gives you a stunning look at an affordable price.

What is Polki Jewelry?

Polki is crafted in much the same way as Kundan. The key difference between the two is that while Kundan utilizes glass, Polki uses uncut, raw diamonds. These mined diamonds are given a basic cut and polish, but don’t display the sparkle and brilliance that we’ve come to associate with diamonds.

Naturally, Polki is much more valuable than Kundan due to the gold and diamond content. However, it’s not as expensive as most types of diamond jewelry as those require high quality diamonds.

Diamonds used in Polki may contain inclusions, have lower color grades and don’t have the cut that diamonds are known for. In other words, Polki diamonds don’t subscribe to the 4cs and this makes them less expensive than you’d expect.

Polki Indian jewelry
Polki necklace Indian jewelry red color
Stunning vintage Polki featuring intricate detailing and Meenakari work on the underside. See it here.

Polki, like Kundan, typically has Meenakari work on the underside which adds to its beauty and value. Polki is also often chosen as a less expensive substitute for diamond jewelry whereas Kundan is more in the league of costume jewelry.

Is It Easy to See the Difference Between Polki and Kundan?

While both look similar at first glance, a closer look will show that Polki is more brilliant than Kundan whereas Kundan has a clearer shine.

You’ll also notice that the stones in Polki look more natural with each being individual in appearance whereas Kundan can have a glass-like appearance.

Should I Choose Polki or Kundan?

This is a personal choice and depends on a number of factors, especially budget.

From the two, Polki is more coveted and in greater demand because of its natural diamonds, shinier look and heirloom-quality. But it’s higher price can make it unaffordable to some.

Quick Summary

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Here’s a quick summary of the similarities and the differences between Polki and Kundan:

  • Polki and Kundan were brought to India by the Mughals, hence it’s association with royalty
  • Both Polki and Kundan are made using the Jadau technique
  • Both symbolize royalty
  • Polki and Kundan are worn traditionally by Indian brides but can be worn for any occasion
  • Polki is made using raw, uncut mined diamonds
  • Kundan is crafted out of glass and gemstones
  • Both have a base of 24k gold foil
  • Polki is more brilliant but Kundan is more lustrous
  • Polki is more expensive than Kundan
  • Both come from Rajasthan and Gujarat but are popular around the country

Now that we’ve covered the difference between these two amazing Indian jewelry types, find out more about types of Indian jewelry here.

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