Ever heard of gold jewellery with a hidden microphone or USB drive or a piece of jewellery with embedded therapeutic gem stones? Faced with rising gold and diamond prices and growing competition from lifestyle products such as mobile phones, holidays and cars, the gems and jewellery industry has found novel ways to take on the competition.
Students at the National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad, are working on innovative designs concepts which will add some utility value to luxury jewellery products and help jewellers stay afloat.
Luxury spending in India may have increased five times in last five years, but the share of jewellery has dipped drastically. From being viewed as an investment product, jewellery is now increasingly being pitched against other luxury products thereby requiring innovation.
"Today, jewellery requires feel-inspired or topic-inspired research for continual innovation, otherwise it won't be able to survive against lifestyle products like mobile phones or cars.
Knowing this, we have begun such research and our students are trying to develop innovative products like smart jewellery or therapeutic jewellry," Shimul Vyas, co-ordinator, post graduate programme in lifestyle accessory design, NID, said.
So, while a student has developed gold jewellery with hidden microphone, another has developed designed jewellery that can function as a USB drive. "Earlier, jewellery used to be a conventional investment product, but we realised the need to break the mould.
At NID, our students found an interesting way out of this by adding utility to the jewellery. As a result of the research and projects conducted by them, we now have gold jewellery with hidden microphone or a USB drive," Vyas added.
Also, keeping in mind Indian culture beliefs, students at the institute have developed what are called 'therapeutic jewellery'. "Indians have strong belief in influence of celestial bodies and chakras in the human body. Therefore, we believe products like 'therapeutic jewellery', where specific gem stones are used keeping in mind such belief, will be a hit.
While the products may be part of an academic research as of now, we soon intend to commercialise them," added Vyas.
Hemant Shah, director of Dia Vente Jewellry Pvt Ltd says: "As a product, jewellery innovation is essential, but it is only now that players in the industry have realised its significance. In such a fragmented industry like jewellery, only innovation and generic advertising will help develop the product in the lifestyle category. Therefore, branded jewellery with mass promotion has been making its presence felt in the industry," said Shah.
Shah's company itself has come out with what is known as 'crossover jewellery' through an India Heritage Collection which integrates traditional tribal arts and crafts in non-precious metals like brass with precious metals and stones like gold and diamond.
"They may not make a huge impact on sales initially, but it will strengthen other jewellery products by increasing the footfall," Shah added. However, according to Vyas, innovation in the industry is still in a nascent stage.
"Though, products like 'work jewellery' which can be worn by working women during office hours without appearing flamboyant are being developed by some players but their commercial acceptance is yet to be seen," she added.
There are others who think the trend for innovation will be restricted to foreign markets or consumers. "It will take another 2-3 years for the Indian consumer to move from viewing jewellery as a traditional or investment product to accepting it as a lifestyle consummable at par with other such products," said Russell Mehta, CEO, Rosy Blue (India) Pvt Ltd.