Heritage jewellery from India has been attracting the attention of the West since the 1920s and the 1930s and the sheer charisma that defines heritage jewellery explains the comeback of the same with a bang. The recent launch of exclusive heritage jewellery stores like Gaja Heritage, from the umbrella of Shree Ganesh Jewellery House Ltd, in Kola (third outlet) and a couple of jewellers promoting their line of heritage jewellery speak volumes about the jewellery being in vogue again. Heritage jewellery is rich in Indian traditional design. The elements offered by this form of jewellery are passed down the ages and possess a strong Indian flavour. Reema Jain, MD, Heritage Jewelers opines, “It’s basically taking up the old designs/motifs and creating new forms of jewellery. For instance, earlier plain gold was used but now, meena etc are added to the jewellery pieces.”
Customised to entice the contemporary women
Women are very fond of the old designs even in this day and age since there is an ethnic value attached to it. The current style of heritage jewellery is best suited for the working women of today. Exquisite designs and quality remain to be something that adds to the entire experience of heritage jewellery. As Jain puts it across, “It is the merger of old ideas and new technologies, what we see today is the new line of heritage jewellery.”
C. Vinod Hayagriv, Managing Director, C. Krishniah Chetty & Sons avers, “The heritage jewellery forum was formed by the founder and has been one of our core collections for more than 70 years. We are just taking the whole concept of heritage jewellery to the next level by our unique initiative ‘Own History, Acquire Eternity’.” Under this initiative, the jewellery house is trying to create a consortium of high net worth individuals in India to bring back the prized possession back to its roots and retain its rich heritage.
Gaja Heritage offers Raj Bari, which includes Bengali jewellery designs from Zamindari days. The jewellery has been inspired by the forts and palaces of Bengal. The Lodhi style of heritage jewellery is conceptualised based on the styles of Maharajas and Maharanis from Mughal- and Rajput-era.
While Jain defines the target group to be a wider one encapsulating different age groups, Hayagriv says, “Our target audiences are seasoned and mature jewellery buyers. The TG constitutes the set of people who understand and value heritage jewellery, and is ready to maintain its character and integrity.”
“We want to attract all sorts of customers by being their wedding/major event jewellery consultant, by providing best of services, designs and product collection at affordable prices,” says Sharad Mohata, Director, Shree Ganesh Jewellery House Ltd.
Hayagriv affirms, “The Heritage and Estate jewellery is a very niche market. But there is a very strong demand for it and we have a very local customer base of such clients, who appreciate and value the collections and the history associated with the pieces.”
Price range and marketing
The price range, for the Heritage Collection, as shared by Hayagriv starts from Rs 1 lakh plus. On the same lines, Jain shares the range to be from Rs 1 lakh and goes upto 5 lakh. The marketing strategies range from newspapers ads to SMSes.
At C Krishniah Chetty & Sons, which is a 140 year old jewellery house, the marketing initiatives, as mentioned above, involve programmes like Own History Acquire Eternity. Hayagriv adds, “Indians should begin taking pride in one’s heritage and restore the history and grandeur for future generations. We at C Krishniah Chetty & Sons believe that private individuals and families should set up, run and maintain heritage museums with public participation for transparency, longevity and continuation. Jewellery belonging to any member of the public should also be allowed to be loaned to heritage museums and thus shown for short periods to influence artists, designers and photographers.”
Style Statement & skills
Heritage jewellery is timeless and will always be in trend; it goes well with a majority of attires and creates a style statement irrespective of the occasion and outfit. “If for instance, we take up the traditional suits, out of 10 suits, 9 would be having gold work on it which ultimately goes very well with the heritage gold jewellery,” says Jain. Earlier, one piece of such jewellery use to take three months for production, now the same is designed in a lesser time.
However, Jain shares that there is a definite requirement of special skilled designers and it is easy to find them as increasing number of people are taking up the relevant courses these days. Hayagriv opines, “There is a requirement for both – the in-house and the outsourced designers. Yes, one requires a very well rooted design philosophy. It’s not everyone's cup of tea!”
Passing on the heritage
Heritage jewellery is close to every woman’s heart, given its rich ethnic connection with royalty and golden era of kings and queens. Nowadays, heritage jewellery is so designed as it is light in weight vis-à-vis the olden days. The demand and the ever-rising gold prices have somewhat contributed to this fact.
Mohata comments, “We are very happy and proud to bring to our customers the world class experience of shopping heritage jewellery from our rich and exclusive collection. We specialise in filigree and polki work and wish to establish ourselves in this high end market. Gaja Heritage, sprawling over an area of 2600 sq ft, is our first store for classic heritage jewellery in Kolkata being one-of-its-kinds under an organised brand.” Apart from Kolkata, Shree Ganesh Jewellery House has its presence in Mumbai, Hyderabad, Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai and Ahmedabad. The company intends to launch 40 plus stores in various formats across India in the next two to three years.
The jewellery industry in India has 3.5 lakh players and is estimated to be worth about Rs 40,000 crore. The opportunities which lay herein are numerous and it’s just a matter of time when heritage jewellery will rule this lucrative market. A combination of pearls, emeralds, rubies and diamonds make the ornament an exclusive piece that adorns an antique look wedded to Indian culture and heritage, which moves down the dynasties/ descendents and worn with élan!