We mostly talk about how Indian jewellery adapts trends from the West but this new story of mine written for the ‘Special India Report’ of the InColor magazine talks about how two trends from the East have traveled to the West and made headlines there!
With the advent of the digital revolution globally, jewelers have found a new medium to connect to their audience, explore new opportunities and tell the world about who they are. It is now easier to keep a track of ‘who is doing what and what’s trending. At the same time, there is now an ever-increasing exchange of cultures and inspirations from east to west and vice versa.
The last year saw the emergence of two such global trends that have their roots in India. Traditional Indian bridal trends are now global red carpet hits. With the popularity of necklaces on a decline, hands and ears have become the next most adorned body parts and thus, influenced from age-old Indian wedding jewelry, hathphool have become hand cuff/ornaments and kanphool have become ear cuffs/ climbers.
Hands provide a good landscape for jewelry, which can be flaunted with ease and flair. Hand ornaments range from armlets to wrist wears to rings. Although hand ornaments have been worn by people from different civilizations for many centuries, there is a certain piece that is very specific to Indian brides – the hathphool.
Starting from the wrist and covering the whole back of the palm and ending into rings for one or more fingers, this elaborate jeweled piece is one of the beautiful features of the henna-laden hands of Indian brides.
The hathphool has excited the creative minds of 21st century jewelry designers globally who are now exploring the full hand as a canvas. Bold and stylish, these new-age hand ornaments are called hand cuffs, palm cuffs and even hand wraps. Available in all varieties – set with diamonds, colorful, classic or floral in inspiration, there are even detachable versions whose parts can be worn separately – as a ring, pendant or bracelet.
“Indian consumers are now enjoying both varieties, traditional as well as contemporary styled,” commented Manju Kothari, Creative Director of Entice. “Having a presence in India and Hong Kong, our hand ornaments are a huge hit in both countries. A versatile piece for modern brides, it is a broad bracelet connecting to the ring with detachable diamond chains and a multipurpose flower motif that can be alternatively worn as a pendant. This detachable feature adds value for money and ease of wearing post the special occasion.”
While jewelry designers such as Mira Gulati of Mirari offers traditional hathphools in 22K yellow gold studded in kundan polki, Manju Kothari, Leshna Shah of Aurelle and Farah Khan offer contemporary styled versions with diamonds and colored gemstones set in white, yellow and rose gold. The Gazelle hathphool from Amrapali and Manish Arora’s first collaboration features chunky tribal ornaments synonymous of Amrapali, but in a mélange of colors, charm bells and hearts, a specialty of Manish Arora.
Earrings that follow gravity downwards have been trending for decades, but the new trend goes up the ears. Called ear cuffs, or ear climbers, their length can vary from an inch or two, or go all the way up following the curve of the ear. While most international designers experiment with the fall of earrings, Indian designers work both ways – up as well as down.
A cultural tradition and usually large, kanphool used to be worn only on special occasions in India, but now they are flaunted globally at red carpet events. Moving quickly from the fashion jewelry industry to the elaborate ones made of gold and set with diamonds, this accessory has taken Hollywood by storm with an array of ear cuffs from traditional Indian to punk styled ones.
This global craze has also helped in simplifying the making of the ear cuff. A complicated and slightly painful mechanism to hold the piece upright has now been replaced with a simple clip and silicon backs and wire supports at the back of the ear hidden from view. And the latest technology has helped reduce the weight of the ear cuffs making them more comfortable to wear when worn for many hours.
One of the most common inspirations for the Indian ear cuffs is the peacock where the bird sits poised on the lobe as its tail twirls and covers the entire ear along the outer curve where little gold clips hold the jewel to the ear. Mira Gulati’s brand Mirari is famous for its stunning peacock ear cuffs designs.
“Peacocks make the best inspiration for ear cuffs and kanphool as they are nature’s most beautiful bird,” said Mira Gulati. “The dazzling blend of rich color tones of blue sapphires and emeralds can give a royal, yet chic, look to one’s attire. These days, people are experimenting with the fusion of vintage and contemporary styles, and this is the main reason why peacock motifs are gaining international popularity in jewelry designs,” she added.
A modern take on this traditional ornament is worth looking at as designers are experimenting not just with the lengths of the ornament, but also techniques, color schemes and inspirations. One of the most eye-catching mini-trends is to have an ear cuff in one ear and a matching ear stud in the other, giving attention to the best side of the face and inspiring hair experts to style hair accordingly. The latest collections from international jewelry houses such as Fabergé, Yoko London, Buccellati and Piaget widely feature exceptional ear cuff designs set with colored gemstones, pearls and diamonds.
Although many trends have flown from east to west, a few from the west have also been adapted in India. Indian jewelry has always been elaborate and colorful leaving very little space for simple one-color jewelry items. Since Indians are most familiar with yellow gold, which is by far the most popular color, it took more than a decade for white gold to secure a place among jewelry consumers. And now, with the acceptance of white gold in major cities, rose gold is also being introduced.
Along with white gold, came solitaire diamonds. But in a country where jewelry is considered as an investment and the consumer is used to being able to easily return jewelry items, solitaires came with many questions about return policies. However, doubts have been dispelled with time and now customers have started investing their disposable income in substantial sized certified diamonds in place of gold.
Solitaire engagement rings are a major trend and brides-to-be are experimenting with various shapes and sizes. Today, solitaire jewelry, from ear studs to single line solitaire necklaces and bangles, has become a part of Indians’ lives and a must for every bridal trousseau.
Tags: Amrapali, Aurelle, Buccellati, diamonds, earrings, Farah Khan, Ghanasingh Be True, hand ornaments, hathphool, InColor magazine, indian jewellery, Kanphool, KGK Entice, Piaget, Solitaires, Velvetcase, Yoko London