Almost every established culture has used gold to symbolize power, beauty and purity. In India, gold jewellery has been used to celebrate marriage and during religious festivals. In the North Ornate bridal pieces are popular while in the South 22-karat yellow gold are favored. Indians happen to be the largest consumers of Gold in the world. Not surprisingly, the Indian diaspora and NRIs continue to be enamored by the yellow metal. GaramChai.com has extensive listings of Indian Jewelers across the North America.
A recent New York Times article (link) explores emerging trends in ethnic and contemporary jewellery designs in India that global Desis are sure to be paying attention to. Traditionally, Indians would buy jewellery as an asset for a rainy day and for special occasion like marriage and festivals. Such purchases would involve a lot of research and consensus from the extended family. The article highlights an emerging trend where Indian women are buying contemporary jewellery, purely for joy and satisfaction rather than waiting for an occasion.
Another trend featured in the article is that jewellery made using silver and other material are designed for “daily use” and doesn’t need to sit in lockers.
The article features Eina Ahluwalia (facebook), a jeweler and designer based in Kolkata, whose creations blend social activism, art, design and fashion- partly trying to counter what she calls ‘the patriarchal associations of traditional Indian jewellery.’
“ her 2011 Wedding Vows collection took a stand against domestic violence by using renderings of kirpans, the knives that are an important symbol of her Sikh identity, in necklaces and other pieces. The words “Love, Respect, Protect” were worked in gold into chandelier earrings and layered necklaces.”
That collection, she said, continues to be among her most successful, with its slogan “Accessorize the Warrior Within” resonating among customers. Her designs were inspired by traditional and personal narratives, like her Wordsmith collection that displayed the names for God in Urdu, Arabic and Hindi. These Jewellery prices start at about Rs 5,000 for a pair of shell-shaped earrings and rise to about Rs 25,000 for elaborate pieces. “
At first there was a cap to how much customers would spend in terms of price per piece,” she said. But, “over the years, the Indian market is exposed to so much more, and the customer base has significantly widened.” Today, unorthodox materials like concrete, wood, leather and found objects are used by many of the 60 designers whose work is showcased alongside Ahluwalia’s at Nimai, a concept jewellery store opened in Delhi by Pooja Roy Yadav in 2013.”
“Social media has been an invaluable tool to share these stories,” she said, “which would be near impossible in traditional retail formats, and very expensive and impersonal through conventional advertising and marketing.” Now designers, including Ahluwalia and Pittie, are creating collections suitable for bridal wear.