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Minimalism is the new normal for those who just can't stop loving gold

Tanishq’s Aarambh collection is a combination of diamond and ruby set in gold with floral designs
It is bracelets over bangles, ear studs over danglers and slender chains with sleek pendants, over heavy neckpieces. The Covid era marks the return of the yellow metal in a big way. However the trend is headlined by lightweight minimalist pieces over heavy, expensive sets. The designs are more contemporary, modern and chic than traditional and people are buying for self-use rather than as an investment. 

Gold shines again

Gold is back and how. This despite the fact that it is facing headwinds on account of a phenomenal spike in gold prices, and a Covid crisis that has hurt practically every sector and cast a cloud on discretionary spending. The current rate for 24-carat gold is Rs 53,450 per 10 grams as against Rs 35,050 the same time last year. But jewellery purchases continue. 

Says Arun Narayan, AVP, Marketing & Retail, Tanishq: “The fact that people have multiple relationships with gold is what helps see it through tough times like these. The metal is considered very auspicious, and is integral part of our culture and tradition. No religious ceremony, be it housewarming or wedding, is complete without it. Moreover, it remains a significant asset class with great potential for price appreciation.” 

Typically, the maximum sales are clocked around Akshay Tritiya (a festival that did not elicit demand this time as it was in the middle of lockdown) and Dhanteras (on which jewellers are pinning all hopes to register the best ever sales). Says Tanishq’s Narayan, "The season from October to February is when the maximum sales are clocked. September is somehow not considered an auspicious month to buy. We have had many people purchasing ornaments in July and August, for weddings in winter, and the festivals. They also fear a further hike in gold prices.” 

The online glitter

Jewellers with a digital model and an e-commerce platform are doing significantly well in the time of Covid. People are not stepping out of their homes to buy jewellery from brick-and-mortar stores and are quite content buying ornaments online.  

Take the case of Melorra, a jewellery brand that has an e-commerce portal and has registered demand for its all shades of gold such as yellow, white and rose. Says Deepshikha Gupta, VP-Design, Melorra: “For us, Covid has been a blessing in disguise. Online sales have picked up for us. Gold ornaments for the first time are being bought digitally by individual buyers in a big way for self-use and our customers love to choose from the huge catalogue of designs available online-- something that isn't feasible offline. The price point has come down undoubtedly and people are purchasing more for daily wear or ‘practical fashion’.” 

The sweet spot for Melorra lies in the Rs 35,000-50,000 band, says Gupta, while for the industry it is between Rs 50,000 and Rs 1 lakh. 

Self-use over investment is the biggest reason people are buying jewellery. Buyers are going for light, dainty pieces as options for going out have come down, and jewellery that can be worn daily is more in demand now. Says Piyush Gupta, Director, PP Jewellers, “Consumers are buying jewellery that serves their purpose of acquiring something new and at the same time doesn’t burn a hole in their pockets. Rings, studs and pendants have found their place in the consumer’s closet mostly because they can be worn at home or for casual outings, and are also among the most affordable ornaments. Engagement rings are available for Rs 1-2 lakh, ear studs for Rs 50,000 to Rs 1.5 lakh, and polki sets for up to Rs 5 lakh for wedding clients. Pendants for gifting can be bought for Rs 50,000 to Rs 80,000.

Standout jewels: video calls and social media

The digital platforms are abuzz with ornaments that exude simplicity and elegance. This is something that compliments the mood of the times, pocket wise and weather wise, but more importantly, it lets you shine in those video calls and even in your social media profile. Says Shyamala Ramanan, Business Head, Mia: “There is a rise of “visible” jewellery such as earrings and neckwear, with video calls becoming the order of the day. In fact, women now want much less stuff on the hands.” 

Contemporary designs that go with the perfect corporate look for the working woman are much in demand. Minimalistic designs are back in vogue especially with the urban Indian woman wanting more understated and sophisticated pieces to go with a similar sense of attire. Says Milind Mathur, Creative Director and Partner, Kohinoor Jewellers, Agra: “Online audience has a preference for modern and contemporary styles and traditional styles are finding it difficult to sell. Gold as a commodity never went anywhere and will always be there.”

Designs in the market 

Nature and geometry-based designs continue to elicit interest from the Indian jewellery shopper. The floral design, the blooming Motia flower, the Pipal patra, message bracelets and ‘mantra’ pendants are among the popular motifs in Indian jewellery. But new design concepts gaining ground are around science and astronomy. For instance, unusual motifs such as a constellation pendant are generating interest among urban women today. The market abounds in quirky and abstract pieces. A heart is a common motif but a heart with a heartbeat was launched by a brand recently. Likewise, ‘The Princess Edit’ by Mia with Disney Princess-themed pendants and earrings, with coloured stones set in rose and plain 14-karat gold and diamond jewellery was a runaway success. From Cinderella’s kindness, to Ariel’s adventurous spirit, to Belle’s intelligence, Rapunzel’s curiosity, Mulan’s courageous attitude, Jasmine’s independent nature or Snow White’s optimism, one can choose the trait that reflects one's personality. 

Says Mia’s Ramanan, “The Mia woman is free-spirited, adventurous and stands up for her beliefs and values. Princesses reflect these values, and we are confident our consumers will love the design inspiration we have taken and wear it as an extension of their personalities.”

Sea-change in attitude: Why buy gold   

People are spending carefully due to Covid-19 and the tanking economy. There has been a sea-change in attitude and people are buying for the “feel good” factor. Says Melorra’s Gupta: “People are now only buying to gratify themselves. Everyone is being extremely careful about investments, with choices being limited. They are handpicking designs in gold that appeal to them. Earrings and necklaces are the bestselling ornaments at the moment.” 

It’s no longer so much about kundan and polki. Says jewellery designer Riddhima Kapoor Sahni, “Pre-Covid demand had definitely shifted to polki and diamond, and demand for gold jewellery was lower. Polki for bridal had become huge. At the moment, the demand is mainly for ready-to-wear and smaller pieces. With big weddings not happening, and people having to opt for smaller gatherings, bridal demand is likely to remain low. Bigger jewellery pieces (mainly big sets) are not moving at the moment.”

Jewellery buying patterns and consumer behaviour have changed drastically due to Covid. Says PP jewellers’ Gupta, “Buyers are still purchasing jewellery but with a different perspective. Value, money and purpose is the key driver for most buyers. There was a hold on almost everything initially, and our sector was no exception. While demand for smaller pieces has picked up, large investments have been put on hold, as the primary focus is on saving money.”

The fastest moving sets in the wedding market are in the mid-range of Rs 2-3 lakh. Diamond-in-gold jewellery is trending and so is colour stone jewellery, says Kohinoor’s Mathur. The demand is still there for medium range pieces in polki, diamond and gemstones. 

Extension of personality

While buying jewellery, one should have fun accessorising and layering it to create unique combinations. The most striking way to layer your jewellery is to wear multiple necklaces of different lengths, weights and designs. 

Like clothes, jewellery is an expression of who we are, and what we love and stand for. Says PP Jewellers’ Gupta, “One should buy jewellery with a purpose, and with a connection to who he or she is and what a person values.” The ornament should reflect your personality. But at the same time, since gold is an asset for life, one should spend wisely, by ensuring proper quality and purity. Says Sahni, “As far as purity goes, people should only buy hallmarked gold jewellery and certified diamond jewellery. Please buy certificates printed by independent reputed organisations, not by the jeweller.”

Hygiene is also important. Rings and bangles can be full of bacteria, so cleaning your jewellery is as essential as washing your hands. Use warm water with some mild dish-washing soap to make a gentle cleaning solution for gold and diamond jewellery. Soak the jewellery in it for 20-40 minutes and use a soft cloth or soft toothbrush to rub or wipe the jewellery.

Finally, gold is a noble metal that is said to improve blood circulation, regulate oxygen flow to every part of the body. It helps regulate the body's temperature-control mechanism, which protects us from outside temperature variations and boosts immunity. 

The metal has been seen since primeval times as a symbol of wealth and luck, and as a confidence booster. Mia’s Ramanan says that during her research, she found that the oldest gold ornament was made in 4,400 BC. “Gold isn't going anywhere--Covid or no covid, recession or revival. It is timeless and will never lose its status in the world.”

Table: What's trending in gold jewellery and at what price points

Description  Price Range (Rs)
Ear Cuffs, Studs  20,000-45,000
Bracelets  25,000-70,000
Bangles  50,000-1,25,000
Rings  5,500-75,000
Slender chains 
17,000-70,000
Pendants  5,500-50,000
Source: Market Research



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