KOLKATA: Higher gold prices and less awareness among Indians about customs clearance norms have worked in favour of costume jewellers in the country. Costume jewellers say that they have clocked 20-30% growth in the current fiscal with women from affluent households embracing such jewellery for attending weddings and parties in foreign locales.
The spectacular growth in costume jewelleryhas emerged as a threat to the gold trade, which has not witnessed much growth as yellow metal prices have surged due to a weak rupee, touching Rs 33,000 per 10 gm.
"It is true that costume jewellery is a major threat to us. We are advising jewellers to come up with 14-carat gold items to ward off this threat," said Haresh Soni, chairman, All India Gem & Jewellery Trade Federation (GJF).
Costume jewellers say that their trendy as well as heavylook jewellery is even drawing the attention of the affluent class. Rajesh Chheda, partner of Mumbai's top costume jewellery firm Tip Top Point, said that women from South Bombay (SOBO) have started buying from their shop. "The interest among this class for costume jewellery is on the rise and they are coming to our shop in SOBO. We are expecting good demand from them in the upcoming festive and wedding season," he said.
The firm has another outfit in Borivali. Incidentally, demand for costume jewellery comes more from northern and western India. Bangaloreans — both working women as well as college going girls — now-a-days prefer light weight costume jewellery in keeping with the youth mindset that is completely accessoryconscious, the global fashion trends, the importance of looking 'fashionable' rather than looking 'rich', and the need to 'fit in' with your friends rather than looking 'ostentatious'.
Pointed out Vasundhara Mantri, a professional jewellery designer, that women never hesitate to wear imitation jewellery while attending parties, social events, wedding ceremonies because they have contemporary designs with a classic touch bringing in the best of both worlds.
"Disposable income to buy gold jewellery in Indian households has dried up. So, there is a shift towards costume jewellery," added Mantri. Costume jewellery is largely made of brass, cast iron, nickel, plastic beads and stones, instead of precious metals and gems. It does not have resale value and is available in the range of less costhan Rs 100 and may go as high as Rs 50,000 depending upon the item.
Deepika Sehgal, co-founder of Mumbai-based Miss Flurrty, said that the industry size is expected to touch Rs 15,000 crore by December 2015, according to an Assocham study, up from Rs 8,000 crore in December 2012. Women are now embracing this kind of jewellery for attending ceremonies in foreign locales as well.
"The tough customs norms have forced these women to carry costume jewellery so that they do not face any questioning while travelling back to India," said Chheda. But the GJFchairman feels that since there is very little awareness among people about customs norms, they misunderstand the entire process. "While leaving India, they can get their jewellery checked at the customs and take the authority's letter so that while returning to India they do not face any hassle," he explained.
Hyderabad-based jewellery designer Suhani Pittie said: "While demand from the US and European markets has been on the rise over the last 9-12 months (in volume terms), demand from rural market has also grown substantially over the years. Gold is and will always be an emotional and investment-oriented purchase in our country. But price being such a constraint, imitation jewellery, via its large canvas of raw material, offers various ways to phrase your expression. In fact, the imitation/fashion jewellery market sees a rise of nearly 85% during festivals. It is growing by nearly 20% per annum".