From investment to self-expression: The modern South Indian woman's jewelry collection

Currently, a range of accessories made of terracotta, polymer clay and silk thread are popular.
From investment to self-expression: The modern South Indian woman's jewelry collection
From investment to self-expression: The modern South Indian woman's jewelry collection
Written by:

Priyanka Raman

Growing up, we were told not to waste money buying ‘rolled gold’ jewelry from Pondy Bazaar and other such markets that exist in every South Indian city. To women from earlier generations, jewelry stands for anything crafted in gold and occasionally silver. With gold prices skyrocketing and newer designs hitting the market, the accessories business today is undergoing a major metamorphosis.

Currently, a range of accessories made of varying materials are readily available in the market including terracotta, polymer clay and silk thread jewelry. Apart from these new mediums, antique silver and gold jewelry are in much demand. The older the pattern, the better. 

With the advent of social media, every piece of jewelry becomes old after one outing. This has given rise to a new breed of jewelry makers who custom-make jewelry to suit a particular clothing.

Terracotta, polymer clay and silk thread jewelry come in a variety of shades and complement the fabrics preferred by South Indians. Jayanthi Ashwin, Designer & Founder, Dhayaa Creations, says, “People prefer to match their outfits to their jewelry. Since these types of jewelry can be easily customised according to the dress colour, they are in trend now.”

Vandini Gokul Ravindran, who owns a popular Facebook jewelry store, Janvi Adornments, says, “My business has mainly grown through word of mouth and the goodwill of all my friends and client turned friends. There is a wide reach for photos and posts when you put them up on Facebook/ Instagram. Since clients are exposed to more and more variety, they tend to shop with those who have the latest in trends. Affordable pricing is important too.”

Rakshita, who owns Hani’s, believes there is a paradigm shift towards artificial jewelry. She says, “Rather than as a channel of support, social media has provided the roots to thrive for many new B2C business startups and transformed many passionate students, corporates, and homemakers into successful entrepreneurs.”

Celebrities have always influenced fashion sensibilities. Remember Nadhiya, who starred in Tamil, Malayalam and Telugu films? At one point, her plastic earrings were the rage in the South. Today, women look up to celebrities like Vidya Balan, Deepika Padukone and Nayanthara for jewelry trends.

Queens Jewel Emporium is a well-known name when it comes to bridal jewelry. Their core customers are brides who are looking for antique jewelry pieces at affordable rates. Sujatha Prakashbabu, Founder & CEO, Queens Jewel Emporium, says, “The hair accessories we designed for actor Sneha’s wedding was a massive hit and is still a much sought after design in the wedding market.”

Yet another refreshing change is that people who have always embraced pure gold jewelry are gravitating towards artificial jewelry. Vandini recollects, “One of my clients told me that she enjoyed shocking her friends by wearing terracotta jewelry as she was someone who would never wear anything other than her traditional 7 stone diamond stud and thali chain.”

The sky is the limit when it comes to how much women are willing to pay for their jewelry. From INR 200 to INR 50000, the range is vast and interesting. From vintage jewelry to big chunky statement pieces – there are a million trendy options available at every price range. Consumers are certainly spoilt for choice.

Says Bengaluru-based fashionista & self-confessed shopaholic, Sharanya Ramanathan, “If it's trendy wear, then I go with something neutral like a choker or a long chain that'll go with any dress. Usually I look for ethnic jewelry to suit a particular saree or kurta.”

Women are moving away from small sized jewelry to statement pieces. That is also why it is hard to find a single trend in the artificial jewelry market. From Art Deco jewelry to antique temple jewelry, there is a clientele for everything. People value workmanship even if the medium of expression is clay or copper. This is certainly a refreshing change from the gold jhumkis and harams that were in vogue a few decades ago.

Everyone wants to wear something unique and stunning. From being an investment, jewelry is fast becoming a way of self-expression.

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