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Future of Kundan Jadau Jewellery and Coloured Gemstones in the Indian Wedding Industry? And How can we sustain the fast and high growth for this category ?

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Retail Jeweller India welcomed Mr. Prabhat Sekhar, Director of Manoharlal Sarraf Jewellers, New Delhi, Varghese Alukka, Managing Director of Jos Allukas, Venkat Bhanu Prakash Jasti, owner of Ananth Diamonds, Vijayawada, Amit Bandi, CEO of D P Jewel Line, Mumbai, Neerav Challa, Head of Merchandising of PMJ Gems & Jewels, Hyderabad and Kailash Kabra, Founder and Managing Director of KK Jewels, Ahmedabad for the Retail Jeweller Jaipur Forum 2022

SB:

We’ll start with Kailash Kabra, from Ahmedabad. Kailash, there has been a clear shift towards heavy bridal jewellery from Jaipur and you’re from Ahmedabad and during COVID, you did a lot of innovation in this category. What do you think is the current state of bridal jewellery and what do you think is the future?

Kailash: Good afternoon everyone. If you see the last ten important Bollywood stars, from Anushka Sharma to Deepika to Alia, with their whole look and outfits, Jadau goes the best. So immediately after this big wedding, the entire market for a couple of months goes on that track. I feel there’s been a great change. Also, diamonds have become so expensive and there are so much of design limitations. If someone is looking for a bridal set, there’s no better choice than Kundan. Kundan has been a great replacement for diamonds.

Samit:

Coming to you Prabhat Ji, you have three stores in Delhi, you’re a connoisseur of colorededgemstones and colored gemstones jewellery with diamonds, so what’s the future of this category in North India, and which colored gemstones are doing well?

Prabhat:

Thank you so much for inviting me, Retail Jeweller. I’m thankful to Mr. Bhatta and Meeta Ji. Colored stones and diamonds are doing wonders in Northern India. Especially, emerald, rubies, pearls, topaz, and semi-precious are doing well too. But we need innovation and marketing in these areas, and a lot of focus with a lot of change in design in that, only then are people buying jewellery with colored stones. There’s a big market in and around Delhi and Northern India, people are especially crazy about designs and everything with colored stones, for sure. Secondly, we need transparency in the color of stones, diamonds, and every product. So colored stones and diamond jewellery is an investment right now. Colored stone with Kundan, open setting polki, needs a very transparent and up-looking market right now in and around Delhi

Samit:

Coming to you Varghese, we know that Kerala is just starting to accept Kundan Jadau jewellery, what do you think needs to be done, to increase awareness and build this category in Kerela?

Varghese:

As Kundan and Jadau jewellery which is quite popular in the Northern part of India like Gujarat and Rajasthan, it is still lacking in Kerala and Southern States, and it is being done with uncut diamonds and gemstones, people are coming to know about these products and for that, we need to advertise a lot through ads & campaigns and we’re trying to bring up these products in the Southern market so the customers can experience the feel of it, even the new trends and preferences, most of the customers are experimenting in the South and we hope by getting these products in the stores, we can give them more knowledge about Uncut, Polki and colored stones and gemstones in the southern part of India

Samit:

Coming to you, Neerav, you’re from Hyderabad which is a very popular market for colored gemstones, what do you think about the demand that has newly emerged, especially in Hyderabad and in Telangana, and what is the reason and what is the future for this demand?

Neerav:

Good afternoon everyone, thank you, Samit Ji, for inviting me. Hyderabad is a hub for colored stone jewellery and precious stone jewellery for many years. The change that we’re seeing in the last 5-7 years is that the millennial crowd is also moving towards colored stone jewellery and they’re preferring pastel shade stones like morganite, corals, etc and we have a crowd above 35-40 years that prefer to have rubies and emeralds as a part of their attire. So, there is a future and people are moving modes because that also gives them value for money. After all, when you have colored stone content, the other content goes down and the product looks much bigger than the actual value. We’re also seeing a shift towards 14 karat jewellery in colored stone and that also makes a market for the millennial crowd because it fits within their budget limits. Even in the smaller price point category, we’re seeing a huge demand for the last 2-2.5 years for rings, earrings, pendants, and all. So, this demand is going to increase in the future and we’ve also seen that manufacturers in various parts of India have used colored stones and diamond jewellery as well now. So few manufacturers have started creating diamond jewellery with fancy diamonds and colored stones. So definitely there is a market and it’s been admired by every age group now.

Samit:

Coming to you, Mr. Bhanu, you’re coming from Vijaywada and bridal harams in natural-colored gemstones and diamonds are very popular in your showroom, and you’ve been doing several shows in Andhra Pradesh and several parts of the country. Can you share some customer insights on this category, like we have Mango Haram, where rubies are very popular, you have coral, cocktail range, can you share with us how it’s happening in Andhra Pradesh and your showroom in Vijaywada?

Bhanu: Good afternoon, everyone, wonderful to share the platform with all the fraternities here. As you mentioned, we have so far noticed, particularly for the modern brides quite a change in the kind of attire. Earlier South was more of a plain jewellery market, the change has been accepted very well by modern brides. We also noticed that the fashion was so fast that, we started using a lot of colored stones in the traditional diamond jewellery as well as everything that comes in bridal Mango Haars, like you mentioned, the customers have been accepting the changes with a very open mind. The sales went up quite a bit when compared to plain jewellery, now they want to match up with fancy accessories, bangles, and earrings so they want to create a total set, especially when it comes to colored stone jewellery. Particularly, in diamond jewellery what we noticed since the diamond prices are going up and the kind of caratage a bride used to wear earlier and in recent times, the brides are going for a bigger set, so they’re accepting the gemstones along with the diamonds so they feel like it’s time for replacement of semi-precious with gemstones.

Samit:

Coming to you, Amit, you have been managing the largest retail  in Madhya Pradesh, with 8 stores and it has been a very growing phenomenon. Previously, people used to travel from Madhya Pradesh to Jaipur, to buy Kundan, Jadau, Polki but what has happened in the state of bridal jewellery in Madhya Pradesh, and what is the future, you feel?

Amit: Thank you very much Samit Bhai, for giving me this opportunity to talk on this interesting subject. Before answering, I’d like to put forward certain statics. Looking at the Indian population, I’m sure everyone will be aware that 70% of the population is young today. Even the audience is a mostly young crowd. I think we need to understand you know this persona first. And there is a very interesting word that is being used today- ‘Millennial Bride’. I think we need to understand what that persona is- she is celebrating her biggest moment in life with royalty, and I think that’s where this category gets its own space. Whether it is Madhya Pradesh, whether it is Rajasthan today, that millennial bride has got a serious connection with today’s trend whether by following a Bollywood page, a Bollywood actress page, or a designer page. The moment she enters the store, she comes with a referral picture or a trend and it deals with a lot of coloreds, and when its colored, it comes with colored stones, polki and she would go beyond budgets and talk about polki and gemstone or colored stone jewellery. I’ll give a classical example of a Tier 3 town, it is an affordable family, and a millennial bride, who stays somewhere else for a job and she follows trends. She comes with a referral image and says ‘Muhje polki ka yeh pastel colored chahiye’ so their requirement has become very very specific today. I think in the last two years, post-COVID, one of the most growing categories in the jewellery business has been Polki. It has a huge scope because we got a new subject to talk about when it comes to bridal jewellery promotions, so we do a lot of festivals, and a lot of events around this particular subject. So it’s got a huge scope.

Samit: Also, what I wanted to talk about Kailash about the pet campaign that you organized, considering the covid protocol and you expected about 10-20 owners coming with their pets, but surprisingly you there were 96 pets- 46 dogs, 12 dogs, cats, and rabbits, and it was an event in Ahemdabad and was featured in Ahmedabad Times, Instagram, and other social media. So can you please talk about the campaign and the event?

Kailash:

As mentioned to you, we as a jeweller in Ahmedabad, our customers liked visiting Jaipur for Jadau jewellery and thanks to COVID, as the travelling reduced and that helped us to increase our inventory. We noticed that now consumers wanted to avoid travelling and wished to buy jewellery locally. This worked for us and our sales increased gradually.

We’ve always been quick on Instagram, we’ve realized that the faster you update new content, the more following increases, then we have good bloggers with us. This particular video was shot by HinaSomani, a very famous blogger in Ahmedabad, and we told her that because we knew about Alia’s look and her stylist is Style by Ami from Mumbai, and we were trying to understand what is Alia going to wear and we had some leads that said that she was going to wear Jadau. And since it is an outfit by Sabyasachi, the polkis used will be small, because he focuses more on syndicate quality, and he’s more on intricate designs, and we had some things in mind. And the moment Alia’s wedding images were out, we immediately did a photoshoot of our exclusive polki collection and we 15 million views and we had a total of 6 such sets out of which 4 sets were quickly sold out, because the millennial brides have a fascination for their wedding jewellery. So it was a hit and we made one more video showing the last ten Bollywood brides, and the bigger families like the Ambani family, and they also wore Jadau.

You know Isha’s set and Nitaben set was completely big polki, nice clean design and this attracts the women from all the age brackets. About the pet party, we stopped doing B2C shows in Ahmedabad because there are so many shows back to back and the quality of shows were also deteriorating, so we thought, how do we engage with our client? Post-COVID, we’ve been seeing so much news about the psychology behind keeping pets during the lockdown. After all, it was a marketing plan only, but it was in a very stylish manner. So we had a pet party on World National Pet Day on April 11, and we invited all our customers through statuses and Instagram, and it increased our engagement.

Samit:

Coming back to you, Neerav, you do a lot of shows in Telangana which is the largest market for bridal sets, and you do a lot of trunk shows. So, how has the merchandising team decided that this is the kind of jewellery that will work in Telangana?

Neerav:

In Hyderabad, specifically, people look upon polki, colored stone, and diamonds and there is an aspiration for that particular category. And as we’re seeing that in the recent wedding of actresses and all, there is a trend that they’re promoting with one piece of polki in their entire bridal in these big fat weddings. If there are 4-5 occasions, main wedding day, sangeet, then haldi, then reception and all, and in 2-3 events they prefer to have polki. We’re also seeing a shift since diamond prices have gone up 30-40%, people are turning to Polki bridal jewellery and if you see South brides, they will wear their belts, their jada, the entire set so even we were skeptical about how we’ll procure the belt which is polki but now demands are coming. Brides are coming and asking for full polki sets. Secondly, due to destination weddings, people will buy 2-3 sets. From merchandising point of view, post-COVID, the gold rate increased so we have increased our assortment in polki and decreased our assortment in other categories. We also got support from the industry and many manufacturers who are giving us commercial backing.

Samit:

Prabhat ji, Anushka Sharma, Sonam Kapoor, now Alia Bhatt, we’re noticing such a huge change. We have new designers joining our industry, and taking Jaipur jewellery to the next level, We also have Sabyasachi and Manish Malhotra as jewellery designers, according to you what should the delhi and around delhi jewellers do in order to sustain this high growth and change?

Prabhat:

We have a very young audience here. Now Jaipur is a city of Rajas, Maharajas, emperors. Now if we look back, during the 17th-18th century, the colored stones and diamonds were available in Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq etc. These precious stones were available for buying only for Kings, queens and merchants. Wherever you see, huge diamonds, polki, rubies were furnished in their crowns, different objects. In delhi, there is a Nizam family who hold an exhibition of Hyderbadi jewellery and collection of emeralds, rubies and other precious gems. One invests their emotions in Kundan. Gold is a money investment. While buying kundan, the consumer emphasizes on emotions. I request the students in the audience to come up with innovations and techniques that helps us to avoid the Kundan jewellery does not tarnish. So that people can shift their focus from emotional investment to real investment in Kundan. We are launching a campaign soon in which we would be promoting open setting polki as we aim to be transparent in our jewellery business. All the students here, please go to your labs, and focus on how to create Kundan jewellery with colored gemstones. Like Samit just said Sabyasachi and Manish Malhotra, we don’t need anybody like that. Jewellery itself is such that it’ll sell. We don’t need anybody. I need a marketing team for promoting a product,Each piece of jewellery should sell their product, keeping in mind that their jewellery is fashion jewellery, absolute maharaja jewellery, that anybody can buy, with no hicks and tricks.

Samit:

Coming to you Varghese, at Joy Alukkas, there’s a focus on colored gemstone jewellery, a lot of focus is coming from Hyderabad, what is your advice to the Jaipur colored gemstone industry? Because here it’s the largest place for cutting and polishing Emerald, and a lot of other colored gemstones. What will be your advice for them to enter the South market?

Varghese:

Gemstones and colored stones jewellery is becoming quite popular in the South nowadays. Tier 2-3 people mainly buy yellow 22-karat jewellery. Now the preference has changed, people focus on designer jewellery and also on the pricing categories. What we want to say to the manufacturers here is that to bring up smaller products, what we presently get is big designs at very higher prices. Customers prefer to have smaller designs, with more transparency on the product, the pricing, and all that.

Samit:

Excellent. Bhanu, you know you have a live video chat facility for the customers in your showroom, I think you started doing that during COVID, and also you’ve organized bridal trunk shows in the US, can you share how these marketing activities have been done and what is the future of retailing bridal jewellery?

Bhanu:

During COVID, we noticed that a lot of customers who were staying abroad were unable to travel. We used to believe that customers wanted to look at the pieces physically before buying them, then taking a call along with the family members. Their call for picking up the jewellery was visible. So we tried reaching them through video calls, we had ample time and our team noticed a drastic change in the customers that they were taking a call without seeing the product, immediately. So used that and we’ve taken off well. The logistics have been very helpful and we’ve been able to ship the product to them on time as well. So sitting from home, they can visualize the jewellery, take a call, and get it delivered to their doorstep. So that is something that is going to take off in the next few years. We believe the customers abroad have more spending potential, not for bridal but for casual jewellery. So we tried reaching these people through trunk shows and video calls, but we still believe that there are a lot of scopes for everyone to explore that.

Samit:

Taking from your point of view of online retail, Caratlane, etc are doing really well. We have Amit, who has now moved his base from Indore to Mumbai and his new company has formed called D P jewel line, and they’re coming up with a big online retail platform. So Amit, I meant to ask you 2-3 things. What is the market share at the moment for online retailing for precious jewellery, and secondly, where do you see this going, from the point of view of E-commerce, where do you see India taking off?

Amit:

To answer this we have to acknowledge that we’re fish in a big ocean because we’re yet to start. As an online market, we’re not even 1% of what is happening globally. When it comes to India, it’s only 1% of what going on. 70% of the Indian persona is below 35 years of age, so this is the market. And there is logic and reason behind it, look at any wedding, the biggest influence on them are the youngest people in the family. Because the trend is following everywhere. So I’m sure there’s a huge scope.

Secondly, when we talk about the modern persona, it’s starting from 18 years of age who are attending college but still has a say today in a lot of decisions. What she wants to wear, she decides. What her mother wears, and will probably influence the rest of the family too. In a lot of research, we were trying to find the persona, and we realized that a working woman of 20-25 year of age, who works for 7 days, want something to show their hard work. Shed wants style, she wants trends, and she also wants affordability.

I think budgeted aspiration is going to be the future of the online market. Style, trend, online, but it has to be budgeted. When talking about polki or Kundan or Jadau where there are no limits, we still need all of these but budget. Trendy pieces, but budgeted. A classic example of that is recently a brand has released polki watches, and it is available online. Mr. Kailash is sitting here, and his buttons are made of polki. The trends are happening here and to catch the trend, one of the biggest tools is social media. Online is the market, and therefore the future.

Kailash:

Just wanted to add one thing, when men want plain bands, which we earlier did not provide, we’re losing the market there. So we released an exclusive line with 15-20 bands and we made it compulsory for every bride, in every wedding, to make broach and buttons compulsory. When Ranveer made wore something similar, we got several orders. Instagram and social media have set the trend.

Courtesy: Retail Jeweller India News

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