There’s a shift in the way Indians wear jewellery. They want XXL earrings and chokers, not just for special occasions, but for everyday wear. The younger consumer is looking at ways to make heirloom jewellery part of their daily wardrobe and reflect their distinct fashion choices. These are some of the conclusions from this year’s Jewellery Trend Report, recently presented by the Natural Diamond Council in India.
The overarching theme of the year, according to the report, is maximalism. The present shopper is looking for the design element rather than the cut of the stone, which wasn’t the case, say, a decade ago, says Radhikaraje Gaekwad, the former maharani of the erstwhile princely state of Baroda, in Gujarat, who was one of the report’s eight contributors. The others included designer Bibhu Mohapatra, journalist Sarah Royce-Greensill and producer Rhea Kapoor.
In an interview, Radhikaraje Gaekwad discusses the report, the consumer’s changing jewellery tastes, and her favourite pieces of jewellery. Edited excerpts:
It’s important to make jewellery sustainable. We are talking so much about sustainability in other aspects of our lives and I feel much the same way about jewellery. The way that modular jewellery works, it’s not something new.
If you look at the old pieces, they could always be detached… Take the sarpech. It can be dismantled and worn as a brooch. Or, a bracelet can be dismantled and worn as a brooch. There were earrings that could be changed from danglers to studs.
I remember my mother had this lovely bor, that’s what we call it in Rajasthan. You wear it at the centre of your head. The central stone in the bor came with a screw, so you could replace it according to the colour of your lehnga or poshak. She had them in a ruby, an emerald, a sapphire. So, this clever way of wearing old jewellery in a new form has always been part of our culture.
As a mother of two daughters, who are in their teens, I see a very different trend emerging.
When I was their age, I used to wear whatever my mum would think was fit for me. When you went for a wedding, the diamond jewellery would be lighter, but it would follow the same sensibility as my mother’s. But now, my daughters want jewellery that doesn’t look like jewellery.
I think the style element, the design element... is much more enhanced rather than the colour of the stones or the cut or the quality of the stone.
Young people are more inclined towards what the end-product looks like and how stylish or how well designed it is. And it’s actually beautiful because we now have a lot of lovely designers creating beautiful diamond jewellery pieces in our country.
Oh yes, that’s true. If you notice closely, the old pieces would be paired with diamonds and rubies, emeralds, sapphires or aquamarines. You saw these stones as staples in jewellery, both overseas and in India. Now you see more stones come up… like I see a lot of opals, spinels, moonstones, corals, all basically stones that were not really regarded as mainstream jewellery at one point.
It is actually very simple; I like the pieces to speak for themselves. I don’t really overplay with my jewellery or over-style it.
I look at how much wear I am going to get out of it. You know some pieces are spectacular but may not be wearable... sometimes they are not even comfortable. I think it’s important, especially when buying earrings, you try them on for a few minutes... at least move your neck around before you decide to invest. Often we buy jewellery because it looks gorgeous, but we just end up not wearing it. It’s happened with me.
Jewellery is always sentimental, for most people. I remember a beautiful bracelet that my grandmother had given me. She had received it from her father. It has a horseshoe on it for luck. It’s very beautiful but I don’t wear it as much as I should. It was given to me when I was about 10-12 years old and I now see my daughter wearing it. I love seeing that this gift that I received from my grandmother still being enjoyed and worn by my daughter and, hopefully, this will continue for generations.
That’s the beauty of real jewellery, that it carries a bit of your history or emotion of your relations with elders and you may not even know them, but it is a form of blessing that goes on to the future generations of a family.