Saturday, September 6, 2003

Season for Stones
Nilima Seth

Season for StonesGEMSTONES are back in fashion, if the hype surrounding the recent International Jewellery Show and the Glamour 2003 exposition in Mumbai should provide any indication. That both shows were held at the onset of India’s festival season was by itself significant.

So what’s hot and what’s not? For one, wearable branded jewellery is fast replacing hand-crafted gold ornaments bought traditionally as investments. For another, while pure gold is most precious, it is being increasingly teamed with casual wear. Yet another discernible trend is that over-the-counter platinum jewellery is finding favour with men.

Opinion is, however, divided on whether diamonds in white gold would continue to dominate over semi-precious stones (like jade, agate, mother-of-pearl and coral) with woven gold (made to look like crochet or lace) in the coming months.


"It is hard to say, since the accent is now on a fusion of Indian aesthetics and international sensibilities," opines Arun Bohra, who is out with his Aarzu and Riwaz range of gold-studded jewellery. "While the use of diamonds has increased, gold is not being used as a platform in a raised finish as it was earlier."

Other designers agree that the timeless appeal of traditional craft forms like kundan work and meenakari has not been eroded, but the designs are executed with a deliberate intent to appeal to the international market. "Traditional jewellery never gets out of style," reiterates Shehnaz Randhawa, another designer.

Woven gold can make a large piece of jewellery look delicate, especially in the more popular pieces that border between necklaces and ruffs. On the other hand, lightweight pieces like pendants, rings and ear studs are preferred in solid gold — often, as alloys with a rodium finish.

Explains Rinku Roy, a jewellery designer: "It makes more sense to buy three or four lightweight sets, rather than a heavy ornate one that you would rarely wear. This explains why, for those special occasions like weddings and religious ceremonies, more and more women are relying on imitation jewellery."

Film star-turned-jeweller Neelam Kothari disagrees: "The consumer still feels that bigger is better. So I try to add value by, say, using full-cut diamonds instead of polki. Moreover, to ensure that heavier sets are not put away in bank lockers, I design them in such a way that they can be worn beautifully both with western dresses and traditional Indian outfits."

Apart from diamonds and rubies, precious stones finding favour these days are alexandrite, tourmaline, sapphire and rose quartz. In the semi-precious category, there are different grades of topaz, jade, agate garnet, coral and mother-of-pearl of every colour, size and shape.

Platinum reputed to ‘last seven lifetimes’, is fast finding favour over gold as a spontaneous buy with Indians. Market reports suggest that rings constitute the fastest moving items in platinum these days. (MF)