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Enchanting 50 Traditional Jewellery Designs Of Tamil Nadu | South Indian Jewels

Updated: Jan 24, 2023

Tamilakam, the land of exquisite temples, craft and a deep rooted, vibrant culture. Just by exploring through the traditional jewellery designs of Tamil Nadu, we were astounded with the depth and grandeur of the land’s culture and craft.

Traditional jewellery of Tamilnadu consists of designs like manga malai, attigai, kaasu malai, temple necklaces, kemp necklaces, nakashi necklaces, long haram, vetrilai kovai, jadanagam, suriapirai chandrapirai, chandra haram, gowri sangam and many more.

The land of the Tamils, rich in culture and tradition where the essence of dance and music of Bharatanatyam floats in air, the beauty of kanjeevaram sarees, and temple jewellery is a source of pride, scent of jasmines with the aroma of sambar and the warm smiles on faces make Tamil Nadu the land it is!

Significance of Jewellery In Tamilnadu

Being a land rich in traditions, lore, and rituals, Tamil people celebrate their lives flamboyantly through their arts, crafts and food. Be it their beliefs or their jewellery, they go all out. Though the people of the land have seen kingdoms rise and fall through generations, they never lost their warmth and 'kalacharam' (culture). Jewellery is just another way of imbuing the deep beliefs, customs and skills on to their daily lives to make it better. Tamilians always stood out with their temple craft, silk weaves and eclectic art forms like Bharatanatyam.


The mighty Cholas, Cheras and Pandyas imprinted on the land of Tamilnadu with their sculptures, monuments and glory. The motherland in turn blessed them with abundance. What we see in temples, monuments, customs, art forms and traditional jewellery designs of Tamilnadu is the reminiscence of the time of heavenly glory. The jewellery of Tamilnadu is believed to be the oldest jewellery found in ancient India.

Types of Traditional Jewellery Of Tamil Nadu

Traditional jewellery of Tamil Nadu are divided majorly into these categories other than the ancient ritualistic and religious jewellery. The usual division of jewellery based on where it is worn can also be considered.

  • Temple jewellery

  • Nakashi jewellery

  • Chettinad Jewellery

Temple jewellery

Temple jewellery designs are one of the oldest jewellery making methods in the country. At first the jewels were only used to adorn the deities of the temples. Later on, Bharatanatyam dancers started using the jewellery paving its way to common folks.

Temple jewellery is usually made in gold and with stone settings all over symbolising sun, moon, nagas and much more. White, red, and green stones were commonly seen on these jewellery designs.

Nakshi jewellery

The temples of Tamilnadu are famous not only for their divinity but also for their architecture. Nakshi or Nakashi jewellery adopted its style from temple architecture of Tamilnadu, giving it the name modern temple jewellery. Though it is not the original temple jewellery, the nakshi work also has its ages of glory to tell. Know more about repousse work on Nakashi jewellery here.

Chettinad Jewellery

The bridal jewellery designs of a Chettiar bride are classy and majestic. The Chettinad jewellery designs mainly used Burmese(present day Myanmar) rubies. The jewellery is also termed as Kemp jewellery. The cabochon rubies were inlaid on heavy gold settings. Most of the Chettinad jewellery designs are passed down from mothers to daughters as heirlooms making them precious and irreplaceable.

Some Of the traditional jewellery designs of Tamil Nadu are listed down below.


1. Manga malai,

2. Kaasu malai

3. Lakshmi Malai

4. Mulla mottu malai

5. Vilakumooku malai

6. Makara Kanti Haram

7. Attigai

8. Kilikasu malai

9. Chavadi

10. Godumai vidai malai

11. Malligai Arumbu malai

12. Chandraharam

13. Thali or Thirumangalyam

14. Pirandai kattai

15. Erattai vadam malai

16. Kodi malai

17. Contrakaram

18. Sangili

19 Milagu mani malai

20. Kazhuthiru - (Chettiar bride)


21. Jimikki,

22. Lolakku

23. Pambadam

24. Mattal

25. Gundalam

26. Kadukkan

27. Thodu


28. Kempu kal Mothiram

29. Ungila

30. Vairamothiram


31. Pachakal valai

32. Vairavalai

33. Lakshmi valai

34. Kappu

36. Kanganam

37. Kempu kal valai

Hair jewellery

38. Surya pirai & chandra pirai - These hair accessories are seen adorned mainly by Tamil brahmin brides of Iyers and Iyyengaars. These are also a part of Bharathnatyam costume jewellery.

39. Nethi chutti - The mangtika studded with red and white stones. Used widely in weddings and classical dance performances like Bharathnatyam, Kuchipudi, Mohiniyattam etc.

40. Rakkodi - Rakkodi is the round shaped hair accessory studded with kemp and white stones to hold a hair bun.

41. Nethi pattai (Gounder bride) - A ritualistic jewellery worn on forehead during the wedding ceremony of a Gounder bride.

42. Jadanagam - 'Jadai' means hair 'nagam' means snake. Jadanagam is the snake like long jewellery clipped on to the long braided hair of a Tamil bride. The jadanagam is usually followed by kunjalam at the tail end of the braid.


43. Oddiyanam

44. Vanki

45. Metti

46. Kolusu

47. Thandai

48. Mookuthi

49. Besari

50. Bullakku - Bullakku is usually embellished with red or white stones. It is a nose accessory that resembles a septum ring. This jewel accessory is widely used in Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi dance performances.

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Media Credits : Krishna Jewellers, Kalyan Jewellers, Bhima, Malabar gold, Pinterest, Vaadamalar, Kushals, Instagram, Jewels of India


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