The History of Navratna Jewellery & its link to Hindu Vedic Astrology
Valued as much for their cosmic energy, materialistic worth and aesthetic beauty, Navratana jewellery is a significant part of religious and astrological traditions of South Asia. It is known by different names across the subcontinent, such as Nauratan in Punjabi, Nopparat in Thailand and Navarathnam in Malyalam to name a few, but it has its linguistic roots in Sanskrit and translates to ‘nine jewels’. This is because Navratan jewellery comprises of nine gemstones; diamond, ruby, emerald, coral, pearl, yellow sapphire, blue sapphire, hessonite and cat's eye. In Vedic astrology, each stone represents the Indian planetary system. It is said that a person governed by a particular planet should wear a stone ruled by that planet in order to attract more cosmic energies from the planet in question. The healing properties of this collection of gemstones is unique in that each stone corresponds to a particular chakra, and therefore each stone has a particular cosmic colour too.
For my wedding, I was really sure as to how I wanted to look as a bride - I had planned it for months that I wanted to wear jewellery which had emerald coloured stones, simply because I knew it would complement my gold outfit well. I arrived at my favourite ethnic jewellery store in London, Red Dot Jewels and shared my vision with the owner Shalini who agreed that what I had in mind would look good, however being the expert in gemstones and jewels, Shalini wanted to try out a few other pieces that she felt would lift the outfit more. I vividly remember her showing me a choker on the shelf which was made up of several unusual colours. It was an odd looking necklace and something I had never seen before in any jewellery shop. It was bold and very unusual in its colour and design, and had Shalini not persuaded me to try it on, I would have just walked past it. Once it was on, I could see what she was seeing. At this point, I’d like to add that this was not a sales ploy by any means because this piece (which I ended up buying and wearing on my wedding day) was cheaper than the one I was originally going to buy. Shalini was invested in me and my vision of the heritage bridal look long before it even became the trend it is now– this was in 2016. Shalini went on to explain that this piece was called Navratan. I fell in love with the name, but what sold it to me was its association with Hindu Vedic astrology. It just so happened that my soon to be husband had started an Indian philosophy class earlier that year where he was also learning about Vedic astrology and for me, this was a sign that this necklace was the one for what it represented.
Navratna Jewelry was predominantly worn by Maharajas in the form of an amulet. The nine gems were considered so powerful that only kings and emperors were given the privilege of wearing certain types of Navaratna jewelry due to their perceived astronomic powers. Among the nine gems, the diamond is considered to be the most powerful. Historically, diamonds have played a very important role in India because they are the most powerful gemstone. For centuries, they were given as an offering such as a tribute in exchange for protection or a symbol of surrendering to an enemy king, but because of their cosmic influence, diamonds symbolized ultimate supremacy, therefore they were often used to finance wars, and other political purposes. We only need to look at the infamous Koh-i-Noor (mountain of light) diamond which was last in the hands of the, Maharaja Duleep Singh (the last King of Punjab) to understand the obsession and influence of diamonds in the subcontinents history. The Koh-i-Noor has often been called the ‘cursed diamond’ but not since it was cut into smaller pieces to suit the western tastes of Albert (Queen Victoria’s husband) who felt the world’s most famous diamond didn’t dazzle how he thought it should. The Koh-i-Noor is still the world’s most contentious diamond and now sits in the crown of the Queen Mothers in its home at the Tower of London.
According to Hindu astrology, life on earth is influenced by the navagrahas, or nine planets. Each of these navagrahas uniquely influences the life of an individual according to their placement on the person’s horoscope. Every planet has an associated gemstone which in turn has the ability to harness the power of the cosmic rays associated with that particular planet. Thus the Navaratna or the combination of nine gems is believed to balance the influence of the navagrahas in a human being’s emotional, mental and materials status.
There is something to be said about how crystals can have therapeutic effects on a physical and emotional level. We’ve developed a deep interest in how the mineral kingdom can help restore balance in our life, and personally have benefitted from learning to associate a crystal with the energy characteristics of its colour to understand the healing potential of the stone in relation to our energy centres – the chakras.