woman’s new best friend
A woman’s new
Jewellery is to women what fast cars are to men; a passion and preoccupation. Across all ages and regions, it is something that really fascinates women. While a diamond may be a girl's best friend and gold may hold the key to her heart, it is the latest fashion that can be worn everyday that interests the female gender the most.
Women are venturing beyond the traditional gold, silver, platinum, diamond and semi-precious stone jewellery. Enter jewellery made from wood, bone, paper, terracotta and other things. Easy on the pocket, high on style and very desirable, this jewellery in alternative materials has women craving for more.
With gold prices having sky-rocketed to a ridiculous high, having the perfect accessory for every outfit is impossible. Just as stylish and very durable; jewellery in innovative materials has caught the fancy of the style conscious. While jewellery made form bones and teeth has been around since man first looked for materials for adornment, there have been other materials like paper that have made waves. Even wood has found its way into bangles, pendants and other adornments.
Offbeat and fascinating
Recently, Ke$ha launched a jewellery line of her own and true to her quirky style the collection is nothing short of shocking as it features real human teeth! And going by the sales, there is actually a huge market even for such far-fetched creations. Handmade jewellery in unusual materials has its own charm that has women hankering for more. Resin replaces pearls; wood, bone and terracotta replace gold and silver and vivid colours make sure you don't miss the emeralds and rubies.
The paper trail
Jewellery crafted out of paper is not just light weight; it is quite pocket friendly too. The most elaborate earrings and necklaces do not weigh more than a few grams while being available in every imaginable colour. Nitin Gupta of Paper Jewellery from Delhi has been creating some beautiful pieces from paper since 1999. He says, "People want to try something different all the time. We wanted to make something non-conventional to suit changing modern tastes. We started designing pieces with handmade paper initially but the finish was not very good. So we shifted to regular mill-made paper. It may be crafted from paper but is really strong and very durable. A lot of women, not just those looking for economical options, but also those desiring unique designs, are opting for our jewellery." At fairs and handicraft exhibitions, they have always got a heartening response.
Paper jewellery is hypoallergenic and recommended for those with sensitive skin. One can choose from a range of handcrafted bracelets, rings, anklets, neck pieces and more. The colours are fast and the jewellery doesn't spoil due to water or sweat under normal conditions and is easy to wipe clean.
Having started out pursuing it as a hobby, Harini Rao from Hyderabad took up her passion for earthy jewellery as a full-time occupation under the label H'earth Treasures. The terracotta jewellery that was available in the market left her desiring more. A traditional art form, it can be made more contemporary and vibrant by the use of fresher designs and colours. She says, "I use riverbed clay that is sifted many times and it is very fine, allowing it to be moulded into intricate patterns. All the moulding and painting is done by hand and the only piece of machinery involved is the kiln where the pieces are fired. Acrylics are then used to paint over the baked accessories to add vibrancy to it. I have been doing this for the last three years and am enjoying every bit of the admiration and adulation it brings."
Shweta Pal, an entrepreneur, loves to wear terracotta jewellery and has a good collection of jewellery with wood beads. "I would like to lay my hands on some paper jewellery, too, should I get a chance as I am always on the lookout for something different. Not only is gold jewellery highly overpriced, there is hardly any scope to experiment. My work involves a lot of travel and I am not very comfortable carrying along gold jewellery to accessorize with my clothes."
Juliette, who owns Fretmajic, based in Galway, Ireland, is a jewellery artist. She uses wood to make jewellery pieces. Juliette came from Lille, France, to learn the art of decorating stringed instruments and got hooked. Taking her knowledge to another level, she took to crafting wood jewellery using the same wood and decorating techniques she had honed. She loves what she does and says, "Men and women appreciate my jewellery alike and it is usually bought by people looking for something handcrafted and unique. I learnt this craft 15 years ago and the instant appreciation that it garnered has egged me on. But the greatest feeling is when kids stop by my jewellery place and admire the pieces with awe."
Delhi-based Aanya Jewels crafts fine jewellery from wood, along with other materials. Though most of the produce goes abroad, the market has been expanding locally too. Owner Pankaj Gupta says, "Internationally, there is a huge demand for eco-friendly jewellery and in India, there is more demand for such jewellery in the South. We have been in this business for the past two and a half years and it is the rustic charm of wood that draws people to it."
Crafting offbeat jewellery requires skilled craftsmen and a leadership with a vision for the extraordinary. It is not precious per se, but it is its designing and allure that lends it its value. So for any form of alternative jewellery to appeal, it has to go an extra mile. Many of these jewellery brands retail online by way of websites and Facebook pages. Even if you cannot find such jewellery locally, you can have it delivered to your home.
SOME individuals make one wonder whether they get more than 24 hours in a day or do they have the same quota of time as the rest of people get. Nilanjan Choudhry is one such individual. With an illustrious academic record of being an alumni of two of India's premier institutes — IIT Kanpur, IIM Ahmedabad, and currently working as a professional, an author, a stage performer, an NGO activist — Nilanajan manages to do all with aplomb.
He grew up in Shillong and after studying there till high school, his interest to be a physicist took him to IIT Kanpur. He enrolled in a five-year integrated Master's programme in physics. Instead of pursuing PhD, he went to IIM Ahmedabad to do his MBA. Theatre beckoned him and since then it has been an important part of his life. "Theatre influenced me personally, professionally as well as in my writing", he says. It started with playing Horatio in a spoof on Hamlet.
Soon after that, he did his first serious play, Tara, written by Mahesh Dattani. He continued doing many workshops and plays while working in Bangalore. He has worked with most of the directors and theatre groups in Bangalore in a variety of English, Hindi and Bengali plays. His first book, Bali and the Ocean of Milk got published in 2012. The Churning of Ocean episode from mythology became the basis of his book. Childhood memories of listening to his grandmother read out the Ramayana and the Mahabharata and Amar Chitra Katha comics led to an abiding interest in mythology. He wanted to write a political satire on the lines of Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron which wasn't really available in Indian literature. These two strands of thought finally came together in the form of Bali and the Ocean of Milk. He has recently completed his second novel, a short thriller entitled The Chatterjee Institute of Detection, set in present-day Bangalore.
He has been working in the IT industry, primarily in consulting and sales roles. As he says, "The technology space is changing all the time and there’s always something new to learn every day which keeps it exciting. Working with many of India’s leading corporates on their strategic technology initiatives, has given me a ring-side view of the evolution and growth of Indian industry across multiple sectors." His career has also evolved and grown in a similar way. There have been highs and lows, successes and failures, but on the whole it has been an interesting journey. About three years back, he took a sabbatical to join an NGO that works to improve school education. After working there for two and a half years, he returned to the corporate world. He set up an NGO 'Riddhi,' to work in the areas of old age and primary education in Bangalore. His work with NGOs has instilled in him humility, patience, perseverance and a deeper understanding of the many challenges that confront India. "I’m a bit of a dilettante. I’ve enjoyed most of the things I’ve done and I keep rotating hats. This requires some multitasking which isn’t always easy but it is fun."
THIS year Scrabble will light 75 candles on its birthday cake. Ludo has lost count of its age, Chinese Checkers is well past the three figure mark and Monopoly is going to be a centurion in a few years. Most other popular board games are fit cases for a geriatric ward, and yet, these still have their legion of admirers.
Though the world’s top 10 games may be stuck in a time wrap, a visit to any toy shop will confirm that the board games market is thriving thanks to the arrival of a plethora of innovative games being introduced by leading companies like Mattel, Hasbro, Disney, Nickelodeon, Toys R Us and more.
Hobby board games
Interestingly, the global $900 million board games market is no longer restricted to developing children’s games. Despite the increase in the popularity of video games, gaming apps and on-the-go games on mobiles and tablets, most of the leading toys and board games brands are expanding their repertoire and aggressively targeting the 20-something niche market of hobby board games, which have become the current global rage.
Hobby board games like Blockus, The Settlers of Catan, Risk Legacy and many others require strategic skills, alternate thinking and one-upmanship. These encourage players to out-reason, manoeuvre and upstage their opponents in a fiercely competitive environment. These games involve no-holds barred boardroom-kind of planning to checkmate competition. Most of these are designed to attract young professionals and can be played in under an hour.
In India, the market is still dominated by children’s board games and hobby games have yet to make a mark. The Indian board game and toy industry is dominated by Funskool, which also supplies toys to some of the largest global toy companies like Hasbro, Lego, Disney and Nickelodeon. Even Mattel, which is among the world’s largest toy and board games manufacturer, is moving a part of its production facilities from China to India.
The Rs 8,000 crore Indian toys and board games market, growing at a compounded annual rate of 30 per cent, has been hit hard by imports from China, which are flooding the market. Only 20 per cent of the market is served by Indian manufacturers and the rest by import of toys and board games from different countries, though China is the largest exporter to India.
The market has seen a steep growth in the last two decades. Attitudes have come in for a dramatic change since the mid-1990s when the turnover was a mere Rs 200 crore. The average Indian who spent no more than 0.33 per cent of the household income in the 1990s is more willing to buy toys and board games for children that improve their reasoning and logic skills. There is an all-round increased awareness of the educational advantages of board games.
Keeping the interest alive are manufacturers of leading board games who are upgrading, refreshing and contemporising their products. Take Monopoly, for example. The decades old board game has now got various versions of the game, including Star Wars, Star Trek, Nintendo and there is also a Monopoly with Disney characters.
In the classical game too, Monopoly has undergone many modern changes. The revamped game sports shiny gold tokens instead of paper currency and you can’t any longer buy London real estate like Oxford Street, Bond Street, Mayfair and Piccadilly. These have been replaced by contemporary popular brands like McDonald’s and Coca-Cola.
Scrabble, on the other hand, has had angry protests after its Facebook version came out with an update — which erased high scores, deleted player contact lists and introduced ads at the end of each turn. Thousands of avid gamers sent in an online petition which stated: "Bring back the Scrabble we love." The response showcased the passionate fan following the board game enjoys even 75 years of existence.
To match the popularity of established players like Monopoly and Scrabble, new game developers like Screenlife are marrying board games to technology. The company’s hit game ‘Scene It’ is an example. Here players have to answer trivia questions about movies, pop music, sports and other popular activities. These questions can either be read from printed cards or viewed on a TV screen through a DVD drive that comes with the game.
Despite the fact that most have online versions, the charm of the board games has not diminished. Even as technology invades the mindspace of more and more kids, the games have stood their ground. That’s because the games present an opportunity to meet friends, spend family time together throwing a dice and move real pieces from one place to another. It’s the thrill of winning and the lows of losing that make board games such timeless blockbusters.