Silver is a store of value and a popular choice of material after gold. At the height of the lockdown in India from April to June 2020, the country’s silver jewellery exports shot up 93 per cent to US$324.59 million. It was the only exports category that stayed in positive territory amid the coronavirus crisis.
Lightweight leafy gold-plated silver danglers accented with gemstones by Adore Jewels
This article first appeared in the JNA January/ February 2021 issue.
Silver plays a significant role in the jewellery sector due to its affordability. India banks on its skilled artisans for handcrafted silver jewellery but it also produces machine-made collections.
Many Indian jewellers act as contract manufacturers for international clients. One such firm is Pinkcity Jewel House Pvt Ltd, Jaipur. Company director Manuj Goyal said, “As contract manufacturers for machine-made silver jewellery, we specialise in casting and electroforming.” With e-commerce taking precedence nowadays, clients prefer ethical, properly audited and compliant companies. Goyal noted, “We are certified by the Responsible Jewellery Council, which makes us attractive to overseas customers.”
According to Puja Bhargava Kamath, creative head and founder of Lai Designs, market knowledge is crucial to success. The company operates out of the US and India. As a designer, Kamath realised early on that her collections were a strong fit for museum stores in the US where customers seek narratives of artistry, myths and culture. “My brand subscribes to Fair Trade principles and most of my sterling silver collections are handcrafted in Jaipur. Finding your niche market is very important,” Kamath noted.
Combining craftsmanship with technology raises the bar on quality. Vivek Shah, founder of jewellery manufacturer and exporter Karma Designs, Ahmedabad, commented, “Our clients want the best quality in terms of setting, polishing and plating. Hence, the majority of our jewellery is cast using state-of-the-art technology. We still have various processes that combine hand craftsmanship and machines. Indian jewellers have access to both craftsmen and machine resources – this is the core strength of India.” Silver being malleable offers more room for experimentation. According to Sunaina Jain, creative head and co-founder of Adore Jewels, Jaipur, overseas demand for handcrafted Indian jewellery is rising. Adore Jewels exports jewellery across nine global markets. Jain said, “The expertise of our Indian karigars (craftsmen) is unparalleled. Our mission is to stay true to our roots and retain the essence of Indian heritage in our creations.”