Zari refers to the metallic threads that are woven into the body of a saree as well as on the border of most Kanchipuram sarees. True or pure zari enjoys the unique characteristics of being created with only pure gold and pure silver. Pure zari is created by wrapping a silver wire on silk thread. This process is intricate and is mostly done by machines, however, back in the day; the entire process was carried out by hand.
The manufacture of real zari takes place in 6 stages whereby flat silver wires, known as Badla, are produced. The Badla is then woven over art silk or cotton threads that act as the base with the help of a winding machine. The end result of the winding process is zari thread. To make the thread gold, it is passed through a solution of pure gold in an electroplating factory. Today, unlike in the old days, the amount of silver used on real zari is more than the amount of gold used. As such, if your grandmother owns pattu sarees from her youth, the chances are high that they are made out of pure gold.
Most people typically burn their sarees in order to differentiate whether they are real or imitation varieties. The best way to determine if your zari is real or not is to examine the quality and color of the zari work. Real zari is more detailed and more vibrant than the cheaper varieties like imitation zari. Here are more ways to identify the difference between real and imitation zari: