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All that glitters is not 22 carrot
Gold has crossed the Rs 32,000 mark but buyers at Jaipur's jewellery shops don't have to fret too much. The city's jewellers have perfected the art of making 'heavy' ornaments with minimal gold.
Just ahead of the wedding season, gold prices are soaring to dizzy heights. And jewellers in Jaipur, one of the country's largest ornament hubs, are busy crafting smart designs that are affordable but attractive. Customers are still hung up on "heavy" jewellery that looks expensive and ornate but actually uses minimal gold.
"There has been a complete change in trends and designs in the last six months. Clients want prices to stay steady but still want their jewellery to look appealing. They want rich-looking chunky pieces that look more expensive than they actually are, " says Rajesh Dhamani of the Jewellers' Association, Jaipur. The conventional, heavy 22-carat gold jewellery is being increasingly replaced by 18- or 14-carat gold ornaments. This trend is particularly visible in diamond jewellery. Customers are happier with an 18-carat gold setting for diamond baubles. "This trend is more visible in the north. In fact, a lot of people are shifting to 14-carat, " says Vijay Jain, CEO of the diamond jewellery retail chain, Orra. A consistent increase in the price of the yellow metal, say retailers, has pushed up jewellery prices by nearly 14 per cent in the past year. Gold prices have actually doubled in the last three years, forcing jewellers to rethink traditional notions about jewellery designing.
Once known for its well-cut precious stones, Jaipur is today also a trendsetter in gold, silver and gemstone jewellery. It caters to both national and international consumers and has an estimated export market of over Rs 3, 200 crore annually. Leading Jaipur-based jewellers and designers have clients from Delhi, Lucknow, Agra, Kanpur, Indore and overseas. But high gold prices have shifted the focus away from traditional design concepts.
"At over Rs 32, 000 per 10 grams, the cost of gold makes for almost 40 per cent of the price of a piece of jewellery. It was less than 15 per cent about a year ago, " says Namrata Ghiya, a leading designer and jewellery brand owner.
"The look of the piece has to be grand. Most clients insist on no reduction in size. They also place a premium on weight, which is why pieces are increasingly studded with precious stones, " says Abhishek Sand of Savio Jewellery.
Designers are also offering bracelets, armlets and necklaces all rolled into one: a single piece that can be worn in three different ways with minor changes. In fact, some jewellers specialise in this kind of 'multi-changeable' jewellery.
"Customers find such pieces more affordable as a single piece can be worn in different ways as accessories on different occasions, " says Sand. A pair of designer earrings can also be worn as studs or in reverse - the texture, colour and design are different when seen from two sides.
Ridhi Purohit, who is shopping for her December wedding, says she prefers gemstone jewellery. "It reduces cost, increases weight and enhances the look, " she says.
The surge in the price of gold has also boosted the demand for diamond jewellery. Incidentally, Kerala jewellers have for years now been crafting ornaments with minimal gold. Several popular gold stores there advertise themselves as "1 gram" specialists, beating that little gold into shapes that look impressively bulky and ornate.
With inputs from Dipti Jain.
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