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Perhaps some of you have wondered about Cambay and its origin, and, from its use in our name Beads of Cambay, you may have guessed that is, in fact, a city. What you might not know is the city’s geographic location, its unique history, or its cultural importance in exporting stones and gems.
We’re here to give you a brief history lesson about all things Cambay! It’s more than just the name of where you purchase your beautiful beads and gemstones. After this lesson, you might find yourself having a newfound pride in your truly unique, hand-crafted pieces of jewelry.
Cambay, also known as Khambhat, is located in the state of Gujarat in west-central India. The city lies at the head of the Gulf of Cambay, or Gulf of Khambhat, and spent its early years as a significant port city.
The city was a bustling trading center in the 15th century. It was described by Marco Polo and other various explorers as a flourishing port city, which had beautiful houses and its own king, and which was exporting various materials like cotton, leather, silk, pearls, and gold.
The city remained busy throughout the century, with merchants traveling by sea to the affluent port. However, when the gulf began to silt up, Cambay no longer served as an important marine trade hub. Now, when the spring tides rise, it still proves too shallow for ships and boats. By 1900, the city’s main export was cotton and stones. Since then, Cambay has become a hub for the textile industry, and it also manufactures matches, salt, and jewels, including diamonds.
The Gulf of Cambay
It is worthy to note that cities lining the Gulf of Cambay have also had rich histories in exporting coral, ivory, beads, textiles, and diamonds. The waterways provide passage to trade and sell these products. In fact, these cities are home to a substantial diamond-cutting industry.
Surat, a city on the Gulf of Cambay, is considered a vital hub in the global diamond trade and was deemed the “Diamond City of India.” In fact, about 90 percent of the world’s diamonds are cut and polished in these gulf side cities.
Culture of Beading in India
Not only do Cambay and the surrounding cities take their beading and jewelry-making very seriously, but India as a whole has a long history and cultural significance with beading and jewelry making. Bead art, throughout the country, is more than five thousand years old.
Ancient civilization used ivory, coral, shells, copper, clay, and wood pieces to create jewelry, and artisans have had a lot of practice since then. Throughout the different eras, Indian artisans have been able to adapt their beads and jewelry to the tastes of that time.
Bead necklaces of semiprecious and precious gemstones were popular during the Mughal era, while the European exploration era brought along the trend of transparent beads, and the jewelry artists began to refine and develop their artwork.
Currently the trend in India is that of glass beads and semiprecious stones, and carved beads of various sizes and shape are also popular. So, you see, India’s jewelry artisans have a long history of adapting their skills and crafts to fit particular styles of their culture, along with supplying many states and cities economic support from the exportation of beads, stones, and jewelry.
Gemstones and Jewelry Making
As mentioned above, in the cities along the Gulf of Cambay, workers cut and polish about 80 – 90 percent of the world’s diamonds. The cities in the Gujarat province produce much of the work that goes into the country’s diamond export business.
But India’s jewelry business doesn’t end with diamonds. Cambay and the other cites in the providence of Gujarat are popular exporters of beads, tribal jewelry, agate, and silver. It is estimated that India alone exports over one billion dollars’ worth of gems per year. This makes sense, when you know the rich history that gemstones and beading have played in supporting the economy of the cities lining the Gulf of Cambay.
Rest assured that Beads of Cambay’s beads and gemstones are beautiful, quality pieces that are taken very seriously. This region of India takes pride in their jewelry and bead making, as it is one of their prime exports. We want nothing but the best for all your jewelry making endeavors, so we import only the best.