The term zari is derived from the Persian word Zar, which when literally translated means gold. Zari work, therefore, encompasses the craft of making gold and silver threads. Zari work also describes a style of embroidery, which is most common in India. Traditionally, the zari making process was mostly done by hand, but since then, the process has become mechanized, which has allowed for the creation of more varieties of imitation zari that are inexpensive and widely accessible.
The main difference between imitation and real zari is in their production processes. Imitation zari is made in the same procedure as the real version except that copper wire is used in the place of the silver wire as the base material. The copper wire is electroplated with silver before being flattened after gilding is complete. The flattened wire is then wound on silk, synthetic or cotton yarn to produce imitation zari thread. This thread can be further gilded with half fine gold thread or gold chemical lacquering to give it a more golden appearance and shine. In India, Zari, real or not is mainly made in Surat, however, most of the pure zari in the world is made in Benaras.
Imitation zari today comes in a range of constructed finishes as well as a range of thickness and color options, which gives consumers and fashion designers more option and variety. Classic and vibrant imitation sarees tend to fade away after a couple of washes, which is why sarees made out of this type of fabric are less expensive than pure zari. Imitation zari sarees are now more popular among women because they allow one to experiment with various trends and the most recent zari patterns. Here are some tips for wearing sarees made out of imitation zari: