Last week, I was invited to speak at the Gem & Jewellery Trade Fair regional networking meet. As I walked through the exhibition hall, it struck me that jewellery is an inherently female product. But the owners and exhibitors present were all men.
They had to come to Kolkata from as far as Bangalore and Indore, Udaipur and Akola. Demonetisation had hit them all hard but was now a done deed. What worried them even more was the future.
"These days if a man asks his wife what do you want for your birthday, she will say iPhone." 60,000 bucks which could have been spent on jewellery, diverted to an electronic item with a life of 24 months and little resale value.
How to get the young generation to buy jewellery is the million dollar question. The industry currently has no answer. The last successful jewellery campaign was probably by De Beers, which got folks to believe 'diamonds are forever'. But that is so 1990s. It's status quo.
Pick up any in-flight rag and you will see that 80 per cent ads are by jewellers. The funny thing is, the pieces they advertise are all Maharani of Mandore type. Humongous, ache-inducing chokers, half-kilogram earrings and impractical bajubands. Each item is priced not in thousands but in lakhs.
Who is this jewellery for? Not the woman -- she's going to wear it once, stoically, and put it into a State Bank of India locker. They say it's her stree dhan or financial security. But if you ask me, a flat worth `30 lakh is a better security than a tola of jewellery. Especially if the marriage fails.
What about jewellery that makes a woman feel beautiful? Well, of course. But who says it has to be real? The standards of imitation jewellery are so high today that a Rs 3,000 neck piece looks as good as a `3 lakh