Affordability and a high style quotient have made silver the new gold

It’s a golden time for silver in the city. And not because it is the festival of lights. Deepavali is a time when silver sales reach fever pitch as North Indians buy silver for dhanteras (two days before Diwali), but despite this, silver is shining, opine a majority of the traders.

The reason for this silver lining, in a recession hit market, is easy to decipher.

Silver upswing

Affordability, declares Bharat Shah of Aabhushan jewellery, is one of the main reasons for this upswing. He set up a shop, perhaps the first, “only for silverware” in the city in 1995 when the purchase of “Diwali sikka ” (Lakshmi embossed coin) was the most common silver item that sold well.

But things have changed and how. A beaming Visheshwara Pai of Indira Jewellers on TD Road, who set up shop in 2009, says that affordability is definitely a reason and also the variety in design that’s now available. Being part of Geeripai jewellery that deals with gold, silver and stones, he felt the need to start a separate outlet for silver to showcase the variety and meet the rising demands.

He says that “all the designs that are found in gold jewellery are now there in silver. Gold-plated silver jewellery is inexpensive and beautiful. .” He displays an attractive range of Italian design sets, laser-cut bangles, bracelets and neck pieces in antique finish silver.

“Traditionally, silver in Kerala was restricted to “pooja items,” – lamps, images of gods, Hanuman’s mace, gifts items for newborns, coins and bought mainly by the Brahmin community,” says Gopalakrishna, In charge of Bheema Silver Palace. The store stocks traditional and trendy items. “Men too come and purchase bracelets and chains. It is fashionable to wear silver now,” he says. They stock sterling silver (92.5), he adds, disclosing that all items at the store are certified by Kochi Assay, the Hallmark centre to ensure purity and quality.

Pooja jewellers on MG Road is a 40-year-old shop that dealt in gold and silver. It was in 1984 that they first brought silver to the city in a substantial way where it was noticed. Vinod Eswar Patil, proprietor, recounts that their clientele then were only Brahmins and North Indians and that silver sold at Rs. 6 for a gram. But Vinod and his father Eswar have seen the market turn.

“There is increased competition in the field now and a mind boggling increase in the variety available,” he says. They are wholesale dealers of silver and sell to retailers and small traders.

College students

Bharat Shah credits college students in bringing about this change, especially in the concept of wearing silver jewellery. The college students who studied outside Kerala returned with silver jewellery. They influenced kids here and a demand for such was created. They brought about this popularity and changed the outlook regarding silver.

“It was considered the poor man’s jewellery earlier and frowned upon,” says Jayashree Das, adding that such sentiments never deterred her from buying silver jewellery even earlier on. Now she finds to her surprise that people are wearing silver jewellery “evening for weddings.”

She has always admired the craftsmanship of old traditional silver jewellery with its crude and raw finish.

For young and pretty Supriya Nair, who graduated from St. Teresa’s College, silver is the new gold. She wears silver with pants, salwars, and saris. “It complements any attire,” she says.

Anisha Menon finds silver imparting a youthful feel and look. “Gold is too formal and of course not for a youngster’s pocket,” she says.

Jayashree agrees saying that silver accessories are trendy and that many brands in silver are now available. “The market in silver jewellery has never been so good. From jhumkas studded with stones to rings, chains…there’s everything. Earlier it just a toe ring, waistband and anklet market.

Shriya Ramachandran says that she too defied the mindset that placed silver lower than gold. “It was as if you are wearing costume jewellery. Now the same people are flaunting silver,” she says having the last laugh.