Definitely by design
All these years, it was gold that mattered in Indian jewellery. Now, platinum seems to have come to its own.
A model with a Middle-Eastern charm sporting a fine platinum-diamond necklace.
WHAT DISTINGUISHES Indian jewellery today? Have we lost the finesse of craftsmanship that made our armbands, necklaces, and earrings stand out amidst branded global pieces? Are discerning Indian customers being taken for a ride by jewellery establishments? Is India ready to take on the world market in this field?
It is in search of answers to some of these questions that an exclusive boutique, Ganjam by Design, was launched at the Leela Galleria last week.
At a media preview, models adorned with stunning jewellery made the answers clear, more than spoken statements could. A tall, slant-eyed beauty donned the piece-de-resistance, a draped shawl of labradorite beads and platinum that sparkled with light as she shimmied through the room, to the haunting strains of the koto played by kimono-clad Asahi Tamiko. An ebony-hued male model with a platinum pendant that glittered with contrasting textures, inspired by an African mask, followed in her wake.
These were just a hint of the riches in store from the brilliance of Japanese designer Kazuo Ogawa, whose other masterpieces - showcased in a September 2001 World of Platinum collection at Ganjam before 2,000 awed spectators - included contemporary marvels destined to attain classic status. Such as? Pave-set diamonds that take their cue from pearls in a grooved, polished platinum necklace. Or a platinum-diamond necklace that uses a combination of baguettes to create the effect of a tiara. But Ogawa is just the star designer whose works will be accessible at this outlet, where prices start at Rs. 27,000.
Unconventional designs for unconventional looks: an ebony-hued male model with a platinum pendant, Inspired by an African mask.
Will Ganjam, by launching these high-end designs, make its mark internationally in the manner of Cartier or Faberge? The brand banner reflects their upbeat mood: "Jewellery born in India, made for the world."
"The Ganjam By Design consumer is one who is looking for more than a piece of jewellery. It is for the rarefied customer who wants an entire experience to possess a piece with a story to tell of its craftsmanship, quality, inspiration, and uniqueness," explains Umesh Ganjam, Joint Managing Director, Ganjam Nagappa & Sons, known since 1889 for its brand equity. Its badges of pride include the International Gold Virtuosi 2002 Award, and making it to the finals of the De Beers Diamond Design Contest in 1998 and 1999. That's besides being official jewellers to the Wadiyars of Mysore and launching platinum jewellery in India.
Ogawa, who had unfortunately lost his voice on the day of the preview, is recognised for his dynamic outlook on live launch events, where his talent embraces the finer points of wardrobe, styling and make-up, besides jewellery, dazzling even at first glimpse. Global cognoscenti recognise his signature fusion of the contemporary and the ethnic. Originally inspired by traditional Japanese art forms, he has since drawn spirit from other sources such as the land of the Buddha, Australia, and the heritage of Egyptian queens like Nefertiti and Cleopatra.
What brought Ogawa in touch with Ganjam? Two years ago, he came to India in search of design inputs, perhaps to augment the platinum jewellery segment. Lured by the craftsmanship of Ganjam's experiments with the precious metal, he decided to link his world with theirs.
Inevitably, he was drawn into the think tank of the Ganjam By Design team, along with De Beers design awardee, consultant Shreedevi Deshpande Puri.
What of the six lines they came up with, in alliance with Italian designers such as Dario? They include the hand-finished simple lines of the Collezione Canestro and Reflections series. Hints of Persian architecture stud Ganjam's Platinum Palette, while the Monsoon Collection has the flowing appeal of raindrops and waterfalls through diamonds and blue topazes. The Classic Line from the house in 18K yellow gold features handpicked, perfectly matched rubies, while the Ikat collection is reminiscent of the priceless Patola weaves from Patan, Gujarat.
Inevitably, the traditional is adapted to the market today in the Heritage Line of close-set jewellery, distinct for its versatile pieces, where a pendant could double as a brooch. And an unusual men's collection, with some designs impelled by the Kannada script.
Apart from being in touch with global trends through Ogawa's Drop, Drape and Cultures of the World collections, what else can the consumer expect from this new trend in marketing? A heightened attention to finishing, even on the reverse of each piece, stresses Mr. Umesh Ganjam, harking back to the exquisite enamel work on the wrong side of each pendant in the Nizam of Hyderabad's collection or the sophisticated finesse of the archer's rings from the Kuwaiti al-Sabah collection, displayed at the British Museum in 2001. Gracious after-sales service will enhance the experience, as much as the subtle ambience of the showroom spurs browsing, a cue taken from Ganjam sales in Japan.
What special inputs went into making Ganjam By Design? An effort to enhance the perception of aesthetic appeal over material content in the act of acquisition, says Ms. Shreedevi Deshpande Puri. Does that mean forgotten skills of craftsmanship honed through generations might be revived? She fervently hopes so.
Even if the emphasis at the boutique does slant towards platinum from Africa, with 10 tonnes of ore yielding a single ounce of jewellery metal, making it worth at least thrice its weight in gold, its destination is visibly exclusive the discerning of design, and the uppermost crust of society. If Ganjam By Design ushers in professionalism in the jewellery trade, on the recovery path after the notorious Gold Control Act, it would be a welcome phenomenon, perhaps with minor modifications along the way. The next stop? New Delhi seems a likely choice.
From now on, all that sparkles in India will not be gold. Stemming from this global brand initiative. Deliberately, by design.
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