Gold has adapted rather well to changing design trends. The reason why it appeals to the old and the young alike…
Gold has been — and continues to remain — an essential asset for women since time immemorial. Surely there must be some reason why this symbol of purity, prosperity and good luck has been the favourite over multiple generations, years and choices? As the recent Akshay Tritiya showed, gold continues to remain the preferred choice of investors and buyers; especially those with a wedding in the family. The day saw a whopping nationwide sale of 20 tonnes, despite gold clocking in at Rs. 22,275! Some reasons for the mystical attraction of this glittery metal…
“It's a bond built over generations. With deep meaning and symbolism attached to it, it is only natural that gold and weddings are inseparable, prices notwithstanding,” says Sirish Chandrashekar, Marketing Manager, Tanishq. “India is the world's largest consumer of gold; our people have a strong and steady affinity towards the precious metal,” emphasises Tarang Arora, Director, Amrapali Fine Jewels. Vikram Raizada, Executive Director- Marketing, Retail and Business Development, Tara Jewellers, agrees, “Buying gold serves a dual purpose of aesthetic value and one of the safest investments available today. Modern Indian brides are aware of this and soaring gold prices do not deter the demand.” Suraj Popley, MD of Popley Eternal, makes a pertinent observation, “Indian marriages are considered incomplete without traditional Indian gold jewellery for the bride. It is also regarded as a great investment as an appreciating asset and a great source of security — a streedhan — for the bride in times of need.” Sucheta Khandwala, Co-Founder, Omved Lifestyle and MD, Hammerplus Jewellery, too points out, “Jewellery purchase in India is an ‘emotional purchase'; given its religious importance, it's a must-buy during festive or auspicious occasions. Yes, the escalating price is a constraint, but since it is speculated that these prices will only continue to rise further, it becomes a lucrative investment.”
While it is said that every bride glows like gold on her D-day, there's nothing more special than gold itself to make her look divine! It is no wonder that Gold holds a special place in every bridal trousseau though the styles and trends keep changing. So what is the in-vogue bridal jewellery? Pratik Shah, MD, Estaa, reveals, “As many choices as there are brides! My mother Swati Shah (in-house designer for Estaa) is flooded with requests for diverse types ranging from the temple nakshi sort to those studded with polkis to the barely-there minimalistic ones. Neckpieces, jhumkas, chunky bangles, pearl and ruby tumbles, maang tikkas are perennially in demand. Interestingly, grooms form a huge part of our clientele; they shop enthusiastically for rings, kalgis, large pendants on plain chains, buttons, and cufflinks.” Sucheta Khandwala adds, “Pendants with spiritual motifs too are making waves.” Designer Varuna D. Jani observes, “White gold is quite in demand. Today's women are well-travelled, and exposed to many other cultures. This has shaped their outlook to add an international touch to their sense of style. Therefore, While today's brides definitely want gold jewellery, they demand more fusion with modern designs and a minimalistic look.” However, jewellery designer Poonam Soni sees different trends to be in vogue. “Brides want different styles for different functions: more understated neckpieces and earrings for the mehndi, sangeet and cocktail party; they definitely want chunky pieces including a maang-tikka, kangans and jhumkas to complement their heavy bridal-wear during the wedding and reception.”
Back to the past
Antique (or antique-looking) jewellery has made a comeback. As Vikram Raizada observes, “Antique jewellery is timeless and extremely versatile. It can be worn with almost any wedding ensemble. It can be delicate to handle due to age; but Other than basic care, not much else is needed to maintain it. Thus, brides are increasingly opting for jewellery passed down through generations.” However, if you don't have the original thing, fear not. ‘Antique-looking' jewellery is here. As Siddhartha Sacheti says, “Heritage ethnic gold jewellery has always played a vital role in influencing designs. The haath-phools, maang-tikkas, and jadau worked kadas, kalgis (sarpech) and heavy neckpieces in traditional designs are making a huge comeback.” Poonam Soni makes an interesting observation, “While people are buying gold in droves, the trend is not to wear glittering jarring gold but rather to camouflage it with dull polish, the antique black look or wearing something like Bikaneri jewellery stained with enamel and vilandi.”
And what do youngsters say? While Poonam Soni feels that it is parental wisdom and experience that directs youngsters to buy gold as a secure investment, Siddhartha Sacheti avers, “Once perceived as loud and heavy, today youngsters appreciate gold jewellery in contemporary, modern and customised designs.The younger generation has a taken liking towards the yellow metal. The otherwise shy, precious yellow metal, reserved for adults and occasions is now crafted in a more sophisticated yet chic way, turning young-India's attention towards itself.” Pratik Shah makes a different point: “With youngsters doing exceedingly well for themselves in all spheres, investment is secondary. They opt for gold jewellery because they have the spending power; and are confident enough to flaunt gold, earlier seen as only for the older age group. Thus, when it combines aesthetic pleasure, prudent investment and reflects one's net worth, why would gold remain relegated to dusty lockers any more?”
Bharathi Raviprakash, Studio Tara, Chennai.
Effect of soaring prices: People don't stop buying gold but now get less for the amount they've put aside. It's had an effect for me too. As a designer, I work specifically with gemstones set in gold. Now with gold prices rising – and diamonds too have seen a 30 per cent increase – I have to combine gold and silver to keep prices reasonable and competitive.
As investment: Well, the country's promoting gold as an investment option; you've got gold funds, jewel loans ... lots of options. Of course, many people look on jewellery as an investment too. The marketplace has shrunk in terms of geography; so really old pieces can be sold, auctioned...
Enduring appeal: I think it's ingrained in us... that love for gold. It's as much a part of our culture and psyche as morning coffee or idli/dosa. Also it's a part of our lives from birth; almost every ceremony involves gold.
Antique jewellery: It's made a huge comeback though the use is occasion-based. Of course it's not exactly the same as before because a lot of the older artisans are not there any more. Now in some cases, the younger generation are continuing with the legacy of the craft.
Design statement: Your jewellery depends on your personality. It should overwhelm or dictate to you. One of my favourite pieces is a funky take on the traditional kasu malai: this one has square pieces instead of the traditional coins.
S. Ahalya, Rasvihar, Chennai.
Effect of soaring prices: Traditionally gold was both wealth and adornment. But now it's both a cultural and lifestyle requirement. With rising prices, people are buying within a budget and looking at something that looks good and is wearable, since the concept of the well-dressed has changed. People need pieces that are not just occasion-based.
As investment: Excellent investment option. It's always appreciating; never really fallen. But if you're talking about jewellery as investment, then it depends on the piece; it's not like the gold coin/bar, the quantum of gold matters. You are investing in wearability and workmanship. Investment in this case depends on the time factor; it's not overnight liquidity.
Enduring appeal: It's an inherent part of our daily life and also there's the purity factor: as pure as gold. Also it's accessible to everyone and they can buy in quantities they are comfortable with. You can start with one gram at a time. You can't buy one square foot of land, can you?
Antique jewellery: These pieces give one a sense of the past, of tradition... One needs to look at the overall context before buying an antique piece; not buy it just because it looks beautiful.
Design statement: My designs borrow from traditional concepts but the end result is contemporary; not modern. Of course I tend to use far more gold than usual. My favourite piece would be the traditional earrings; they're very versatile. Of my designs, I love them all; they're all my babies.
AS TOLD TO R. KRITHIKA