The base for an exclusive piece of jewellery is now at its experimentative best. While new-age metals and materials are coming under the arc lights, there are a few that have taken a leap from artificial jewellery into the world of preciousness, says Anushya Mamtora

Gold ruled the roost for centuries. The bright yellow variety, we mean. When white gold stepped in with its dazzle, it took a few years for jewellery lovers to accept its preciousness quotient. Later, platinum and rose gold became the classy deviants. And yes, how can we forget sterling silver that won hearts when teamed with diamonds and led to international jewellery labels churning out many a collection.

The evolution has brought about yet another wave. A wave so diverse, that the tide has brought to shore some materials - simple and complex, yet unique - to designer studios.

The stage has been set for new-age metals, never-thought-of-before materials and nature's best, which has captured velvet display stands and will soon take over shapely necks in the form of a shell pendant, dainty wrists as a galuchat cuff or macho fingers as titanium rings.

Willing to take the ‘hatke' route to gorgeous pieces of jewels? Here are some popular options.

Metal magic

Titanium and palladium are the newest metals that are taking fine jewellery by storm. Palladium is no newcomer but has grown from mere finishes to becoming the jewel base itself. Part of the platinum group of metals, palladium gets a thumbs up because it's so similar to platinum and is yet a quarter of its price. An alluring white, palladium jewellery is manufactured from 90 to 100 per cent of the metal and hence is hypoallergenic and ideal for those who have skin allergies. It's brighter than white gold (which is an alloy of yellow gold with silver, nickel or palladium) and a fourth of its price, making it a reasonable buy when it comes to fine jewellery.

From aerospace to automobiles to now jewellery, Titanium too has carved a space for itself at designer tables, with artists dedicated to this light, coloured with a grey tint, strong, common metal. It is also a great option for those who have sensitive skin. While the metal is naturally neutral in colour, it can be treated to become blue or black. In fact, its black version is popular, as is the grey one, for engagement rings and simple bands, especially among men.

While there are smaller designers who dabble with palladium and titanium, some best buys are exclusive pieces from Palladium Alliance International that have a collection of gorgeous and intricate palladium jewellery and Tiffany's 1837 range that boasts some classy midnight titanium cuffs, rings and cufflinks.

Back to nature

From a beach-holiday souvenir to a jewellery designer's delight the earthy-hued shell has finally won a place in the fashion radar. Shell teamed with sterling silver is a must have combo for casual occasions but taking to the next level is Prada. Its shell jewellery collection with dainty earrings and bold statement neck piece with a collage of multi-coloured and shaped shells is stunning to say the least. Indian designers too use shell in various forms.

On the other side, the humble mop of hair on the head has taken a new course from mere mourning jewellery to something exclusive.

Though prominent Indian brands are yet to take to the hair art, select international brands and designers specialise in it. Traditional techniques like the flower work, table work, sepia (tiny chopped hair as line drawing embellishments or sketch art) or palette have their own charm but modern versions are grabbing attention too. Horse hair jewellery is also sought after.

Luscious leather

The stylised leather too has taken a detour from loafers, totes and watch straps to precious jewels. Some popular materials used for jewellery are cowhide, deer skin, moose and elk hide, which are then dyed and crafted for creating jewellery.

Most brands use leather as a simple cord or fancy sash that double up as a string to hold a pendant. It's also used in bracelets with gold and diamonds. Some examples include Cartier's Love bracelets (white gold paired with black leather and yellow with beige leather), Bulgari's parentesi silver paired with black, cognac, red and white leather pendants, and Prada's Saffiano calf leather charm.

However, the latest to hit the stands is galuchat or stingray leather. Striking in its embossed appearance, jewellery crafted from galuchat is a smart buy and makes for an eye catching accessory. While Indian luxury jewellery brand Mirari has created colourful galuchat cuffs which are further enhanced with diamonds and pearls, ‘de Grisogono' too has vibrantly hued galuchat cuffs embellished with precious stones.

Tableware to jewels

Who would ever imagine that your favourite piece of china or that exquisite porcelain figurine could be the next addition to your treasure trove! Porcelain and ceramic are the latest to embellish fine art jewellery. These inorganic, non-metallic solids are not just minor incorporations in jewellery but also the cynosure. Luxury porcelain maker Lladro has jewellery in this pristine material. Their latest bridal jewellery saw little porcelain birds adorning an 18 karat gold plated tiara. Hand crafted in matte porcelain, the collection Re-Cyclos Magic Forest also has earrings, necklaces, rings, hairsticks, brooches, hair combs and cufflinks. Its previous collections like Talismania too had masterpieces. Ceramic also takes pride of place in Bulgari's BZero1 rings, designed by Anish Kapoor where pink gold is paired with white and black ceramic for a chunky look.

What's best about this new surge is the price quotient, which is modest and a style quotient that is unique.