Golden Dreams of Malabar
A few weeks ago, I walked into the Malabar Gold & Diamonds showroom as a prospective customer. We had a wedding to plan and Malabar Gold was where we were buying the jewelry from. It was a Wednesday, but despite it being bang in the middle of the week and early in morning, the showroom was thronging with people and there wasn’t a single seat vacant. Despite the madness, I noticed not one customer was left waiting or unattended. What else did I notice? A growing line of people from the managers cabin, who were clearly not gold customers.
It took us a few hours to get everything we needed and by end of it, I had garnered enough confidence and familiarity with the staff to enquire about that perplexing queue that was still there. Just as I had guessed, they weren’t customers, but financially challenged people, who were being helped by the Malabar Group with their medical bills and prescriptions. Under privileged people can walk in, show the bills and the showroom will take care of things for them. Now that was rare and extremely impressive, I thought.
An exhibition of their stunning Navaratna Collection was going on at the time and the staff were warm, courteous and eager to help. By now, I had enough reasons to walk up to the manager’s cabin to make an interview request for Malayali, and they were only happy to oblige.
So, here we go- let us hear what the stalwarts of the Gold industry – Malabar Gold & Diamonds- have to tell us.
What are the current fashion trends in gold jewelry?
The general trend now is light weight ornaments with simple designs. Youngsters prefer diamond jewelry in contemporary designs. As far as bridal wear goes, branded and handcrafted jewelry are the main attraction these days.
There is an unprecedented interest in fashion/costume jewelry of late. There are jewelry sets that can easily pass off for traditional and antique gold jewelry. Does that affect sales in any way?
It is definitely a noted fact that fashion/costume jewelry is a developing trend. But at the same time traditional ornaments will always maintain their supremacy. Think of it this way, when a father decides to gift his daughter or a husband buys an anniversary gift for his wife, they go the gold or diamond route, for there is a trust and pride factor there, not to mention that it is a gift for life. So this penchant for artificial jewelry is temporary and negligible.
Not too long ago, there was a great revival of interest in traditional Kerala jewelry like the Nagapadam, Mullamottu, Kashumala etc. Of late though, there seems to be a lot of North Indian influence- kundan, precious stones etc and also, more contemporary patterns.
Yes, there is definitely a notable change in the preferred designs. The market now is wide open and this trend has produced very good results. Malabar Gold has kept abreast of the changing times and style preferences with our Brides Of India campaign which emphasizes the changing attitude towards heavy and ornate jewelry. Our aim was to make customers aware of the different styles of traditional jewelry across India. We cover the jewelry traditions of various states & cultures across India. The catalogs are available upon request at all Malabar showrooms.
Do you have a separate collection for evening/party wear?
That would be based purely on the tastes and requirements of the customer and the mood of the event. But there are a lot of requests for uncut diamond jewelry. They have the unquestionable elegance of the diamond, and yet are available at a lower price point. Our collection of uncut diamond jewelry is known as brand ERA.
Diamonds seem to be all the rage now. Just a decade ago, the average Malayali associated diamonds with the elite. But now, they seem to be a common choice for wedding rings & jewelry…even for casual wear esp. diamond pendants & ear & nose rings.
We believe this change happened over time. The interest in diamonds has been growing for sometime now. In fact we foresaw this change, and that is how we converted Malabar Gold to Malabar Gold & Diamonds. We are watchful of the younger generation’s dislike of heavy, solid gold jewelry and their growing love affair with the cute and shiny diamond.
How practical are diamonds for daily wear? What are their prospects as investments, compared to gold?
These days, diamond is increasingly being worn on a daily basis. It is practical too, because the diamond is a nearly indestructible stone. It doesn’t erode, corrode or lose it’s shine. The only thing to take care of is not to accidentally bump it hard, which may cause the stone to be displaced. Owning diamonds is undoubtedly an asset; it is something of a status symbol. It is eternal and make great family heirlooms. That said, the gold rate is highly flexible and easy to convert into cash with facilities such as gold loans with banks etc. The popularity and scope of the diamond isn’t as wide just yet.
Precious and semi precious stones also seem to big movers these days- a big step up for Kerala, where the focus has forever remained solid gold jewelry. Malabar Gold’s Navaratna exhibition is garnering a great deal of attention from the general public.
Malabar gold has a collection called Precia with semi precious stones as the focus. They are big movers in the bridal market. We guess just like diamonds, these too have to do with their visual attraction and also the exclusivity and the social prestige associated with them. To fuel the trend, we have this 80-90% cash return policy for the stones during the exchanges, which is the main concern customers have while buying stone-studded jewelry.
Any notable changes in bridal jewelry fashion preferences these days?
Compared to the past, today’s brides prefer a mix of different styles when it comes to jewelry, instead of a collection that totally matches. Our Divine Collection is a preferred choice with its trendy and handcrafted take on traditional designs. We have set up a sample display that has all the current trends.
Tell us about your Starlet Collection
Starlet is focused on kids- a collection of light weight ornaments in simple patterns which is perfectly suited for kids of all ages. The designs predominantly feature enamel coated gold with kid friendly patterns. You will see a predominance of flowers, hearts, stars, animal figurines and other such details that have great kid-appeal. Our aim is to have easy to maintain, simple patterns that are also moderately priced.
What is your advice to prospective gold buyers? What does one need to be aware of when buying gold?
Always buy gold from trusted brands because it is very easy to get swindled. The gold you buy must be from a licensed, quality assured brand. BIS is the sole agency that is appointed by the government of India to ensure gold quality, so the gold you buy must have the BIS logo, its purity marked as 916 (which means 91.6% gold in purity), the logo of the assaying centre, the date of hallmarking and also the logo of the jeweler. These informations will be verified each time you take the gold for any kind of transaction or exchange.
Another thing to take care, is to maintain the gold well. It is recommended that each set of jewelry be kept separately instead of throwing it all together along with other jewelry, for fear of rubbing, scratching or breaking. Never rough-handle jewelry, clean them occasionally to keep them looking new and shiny- these are what you can do to ensure that your gold stays in optimum condition.
By the time we finished the interview and snapped pictures, not to mention, me trying on several of their signature pieces, I knew I had found a go-to destination for my occasional gold cravings. I think you’ll enjoy their jewelry and their integrity too. Do check your nearest Malabar Gold and Diamonds showroom on your next visit home. Special thanks to Malabar Gold and Diamonds, Kannur showroom for this opportunity.
Malabar Gold and Diamonds also has an active online presence. Do check the collections at www.malabargoldanddiamonds.com
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