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Silver shining: As demand surges, silver moves into the spotlight in India’s jewellery industry

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Silver, traditionally overshadowed by gold, is in high demand, spurred equally by rising gold prices and preference for versatile and wearable ornaments. Both consumers and retailers are excited about silver jewellery

India’s jewellery industry, historically ruled by gold, is witnessing a remarkable shift, with a growing fascination for silver, which is emerging out of the shadows to claim its own shining spot. Offering affordability, versatility and contemporary designs that resonate with today’s consumers, silver is gaining traction not just as poor man’s gold, but as a fashionable choice, especially among the younger demographic. With rising prices of gold, this transformation is altering the dynamics of the industry, compelling retailers to focus on jewellery in the silver section, until now relegated to prayer utensils, artefacts and coins.

Today, silver jewellery is not merely a budget-friendly alternative to gold and platinum, but increasingly popular due to its contemporary design, that aids daily accessorizing. In India, 2022 saw the demand for silver exceed 3.4 thousand metric tons, an astonishing 90% increase compared to the previous year. Jewellery constitutes a substantial 34% of the country’s total silver demand. Though global silver jewellery demand is forecast to decline by 10% this year, jewellers in India remain positive and have already made use of the opportunity presented by a renewed interest in silver.

“If you see sales numbers, silver will obviously not be able to match gold, but if you see in terms of category growth, silver sales are going up much faster than gold. We are selling a lot of it online”

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Aditya Pethe, Director, Waman Hari Pethe Jewellers

A STEADY RISE

India now has a thriving industry for silver jewellery, across all regions. Himanshu Shekhar, Director, Manohar Lal Sarraf & Sons Jewellers, New Delhi testifies to its rapid growth in North India, but insists that the rising popularity of silver has nothing to do with gold price increase. “A unique set of customers buys silver jewellery. Silver is mainly used for gifting and it has always been like that,” he says. The brand sold silver, along with gold, from two of its stores since the beginning, and has started selling silver in four other stores over the last three years, maintaining separate counters.

Undoubtedly, silver jewellery is now outperforming traditional gold jewellery,” he declares, making a strong case for silver

Jayantilal Challani, Managing Director, Challani Jewellers, Chennai

In the West, leading Maharashtra-based retail jeweller Waman Hari Pethe has witnessed a steady 30-35% increase in silver sales yearly. The brand offers a wide range of silver jewellery, presenting a middle ground between fashion and precious jewellery. It has even launched a new silver line, Anayra, to cater to a young audience seeking trendy and affordable jewellery. Says Aditya Pethe, Director, Waman Hari Pethe Jewellers, Mumbai, “If you see sales numbers, silver will obviously not be able to match gold, but if you see in terms of category growth, silver sales are going up much faster than gold. We are selling a lot of it online, which is a better option for fashion.”

Special occasions like festivals and weddings drive significant sales in silver jewellery, says Roma Pednekar, Silver Purchase Head, Jagannath Gangaram Pednekar Jewellers, Mumbai, emphasizing the demand for popular items like painjan (anklet) and jodvi (toe-rings). Introduction of modern designs and daily wear collections has further fuelled this demand, she adds. “We have witnessed a shift in consumer preferences towards silver jewellery, particularly among the younger generation. We now offer a diverse range of silver jewellery. Our brand You n Me is dedicated specially to silver jewellery that is popular for gifting,” she elaborates.

These days, women from a high-income background too flaunt their silver jewellery. They have a distinctive sense of fashion, and want their jewellery to be a signature of their personality

Himanshu Shekhar Director
Manohar Lal Saraf & Sons Jewellers, New Delhi

In the South, Jayantilal Challani, Managing Director, Challani Jewellers, Chennai – one of the few retailers to sell gold and silver jewellery from separate stores – has a lot to say about the increasing love for silver. “The silver jewellery segment is getting much attention from the new generation and items like rings, pendants and oxidized necklaces are much sought-after. There is a huge change in the choices of customers, wherein they wish to have gold jewellery designs replicated in silver. Young consumers, in particular, don’t want to feel like they are wearing something every other person has,” says Challani, adding that having separate stores helps as the brand has similar designs in both gold and silver jewellery.

We have achieved more than 200% growth in sales revenue of silver jewellery and artefacts in the last three months after moving to our new store. We are hoping to grow even more

Arti Soni, Owner
Arti Soni Jewellery Raipur

In Central India, Arti Soni, Owner, Arti Soni Jewellery from the house of Babulal Jewellers, Raipur, reiterates the fact that silver jewellery is accessible to a wider range of customers because of its affordability. “We have achieved more than 200% growth in sales revenue of silver jewellery and artefacts in the last three months after moving to our new store. We are hoping to grow even more in the coming years,” says Soni, adding that increasing gold prices has indeed propelled customers to seek silver as an alternative.

THE USP OF SILVER

Silver stands out as a cost-effective option for buyers of jewellery. While traditional anklets constituted a substantial part of the silver jewellery market earlier, the demand today has veered to all kinds of stylish jewellery. With modern designs and variety coming into the segment, it is also the destination for those who would rather buy fashion jewellery at one time, as Pethe points out. “At the end of the day, silver is a precious metal. So, if you have a choice between buying fashion jewellery and precious, people prefer the precious category,” states Pethe, emphasizing the shift in buyer profile.

Another shift, according to Himanshu Shekhar, is women from well-to-do families wearing silver jewellery with a lot of pride, as opposed to mostly people from rural India wearing silver jewellery earlier, due to its affordability. “These days, women from a high-income background too do not shy away from wearing silver jewellery; in fact, they flaunt it. They have a very distinctive sense of fashion, and want their jewellery to be a signature of their personality. These customers often go to other cities to buy specific kinds of silver jewellery,” explains Shekhar, adding that more than being for an occasion, silver jewellery is about the wearer’s personality.

There is a shift in consumer preferences towards silver jewellery, particularly among the younger generation. Modern designs and daily wear collections has
fuelled demand

Roma Pednekar
Silver Purchase Head Jagannath Gangaram Pednekar Jewellers Mumbai

The advent of contemporary designs in silver jewellery also adds to its popularity. “Being affordable and trendy these days, silver jewellery is a good gifting option for various occasions,” Pednekar says.

ADHIK MAAS: A SILVER SAGA

During Adhik Maas – an extra lunar month added to the solar calendar every three years to synchronise the lunar and solar years – silver takes precedence over gold in many parts of the country. The soar in demand for silver during Adhik Maas is a highlight in the calendar of silver jewellery as a category.

In Maharashtra especially, sons-in-law are invited to their in-laws’ homes during this month and presented with silver jewellery, as well as silver spoons and plates. This tradition fuels a demand for silver jewellery and articles.

Jewellery retailers see a consistent surge in silver sales during Adhik Maas. Saurabh Gadgil, Director of PNG Jewellers, says, “Silver has always held a unique charm, and during this month, the demand is amplified. We sell a lot of silver during this season, especially as gifts for sons-in-law and daughters.” On specific trends, Gadgil says, “This year, we’ve seen an upsurge in the demand for painjan (anklets), and its evolution from traditional to fashionable.”

Emphasizing the prominence of silver during Adhik Maas, Tejpal Ranka, Partner at Ranka Jewellers, says, “We increase staff strength by 50% to cater to the heightened footfalls. This year, we introduced a 10-kilo payal as a symbol of our culture and craftsmanship.”

THE ROAD AHEAD
Globally, silver as a category kicked off 2023 on a positive note, with the average price for the year up by 8% compared to the average price for the metal in 2022, according to the non-profit international association The Silver Institute.

According to Challani, the traction that silver jewellery is gaining in India, particularly among the younger generations, is helping drive sales which may even pip gold. “Undoubtedly, silver jewellery is now outperforming traditional gold jewellery,” he declares, making a strong case for silver.

Meanwhile, the growth trajectory of silver jewellery in India shows no sign of slowing down, though industry forecasts show an imminent decline in demand globally. As long as millennials are drawn to silver for its affordability, which makes it easier for them to keep up with fast fashion trends, there will be no dearth of takers for silver jewellery. The impact of lower silver prices is expected to further stimulate demand, as will the ‘style statement’ quotient recently added to silver jewellery.

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