The second wave of the Covid pandemic has had a debilitating impact on various sectors of the economy, and the jadau jewellery segment has been one of the worst sufferers. Jadau jewellery is unique to India, and markets across the globe take a keen interest in this special, and typically ethnic, form of Indian jewellery. Fashionistas combine it with high fashion accessories and attire. Despite the heavy demand, jadau jewellery exporters and suppliers found it difficult to fulfill orders in time because of lockdown 2.0, and the ensuing dearth of karigars. They also faced several logistical difficulties, as flights were cancelled and delayed on many occasions.
Pandemic 2.0: Specific Challenges
The pandemic acted as a great leveler, with everyone suffering. From specialist karigars, to large and small manufacturers, and from retailers to exporters, everyone took a hit.
During the pandemic, many jewellery karigars who live in Bengal and surrounding areas left for their villages, and did not return even when the work had to be completed. However, since jadau karigars are mostly based in Jaipur, where the highest number of jadau jewellery manufacturers are located, Rajasthan-based business owners did not experience too much trouble on the worker front. “We have fulfilled all orders in time, we had karigars working regularly. While the overall demand for traditional and antique jewellery is pretty good, right now, there is a bit of a lull. But after the monsoon, as the festive season sets in, demand is bound to rise,” informs Ankit Lodha of Jewels of Jaipur.
According to Nitin Gilara of Rambhajos, during lockdown 2.0, getting karigars was a bit challenging, but jadau manufacturers were better equipped to deal with the situation, as compared to last year, when the fear element was high. “Last year, no one wanted to report to work because of the fear of infection. Thereafter, as the numberof Covid-19 cases reduced, and orders started accumulating, many were able to get their workers back to work,” Gilara adds.
Unique Nature of Jadau Jewellery
Jadau jewellery is basically heavy, because jadau craftsmanship needs the purest 22ct or 24 ct gold and uncut precious stones. Moreover, the quality has to be good in order for the jewellery to look attractive. However, in view of the pandemic and the gold rate fluctuations, people are not spending much. This has made it challenging to make jadau jewellery, as makers have to opt for lighter jewellery in view of affordability. The problem is that jadau inherently needs a good amount of gold.
“We have worked towards making lightweight jadau jewellery. In the near future, as the pandemic subsides, I hope demand will improve. I believe that as gold prices stabilize, demand will also stabilize,” says Lodha.
According to Abhishek Ghatiwala, Ghatiwala Jewellers, during the lockdown, workers did not report to work at times because of the fear of infection. Thereafter, as the number of cases reduced, many manufacturers were able to get their workers back to work. “Though demand for jadau jewellery has picked up gradually, it is yet to rise up to last year’s level. It is challenging but things are surely looking brighter now,” informs Ghatiwala.
Adds Abhishek Raniwala of Raniwala 1881, “We opted for local workers to keep the work going as most karigars were migrating back to their native places.”
Jadau Jewellery-A Must for Every Wedding
Jadau jewellery is particularly used for weddings. “From Diwali, we will see a lot of demand for jadau jewellery. There is usually no compromise in buying this type of jewellery for the bride,” says Raniwala. “Brides want to look their best and demand the best of jewellery. During the wedding season, retailers also demand traditional jadau necklaces in large numbers,” he informs.
Jadau jewellery has its own grandeur. “A Rs 20-lakh-jadau necklace adds so much value to the personality of the bride, which, perhaps, even a diamond set worth Rs 1 crore may not be able to add. This jewellery holds a special place in the minds of people, particularly for bridal jewellery. Jadau jewellery is, quite often, an heirloom piece,” explains Ghatiwala.
As wedding arrangement costs have reduced because of the cap on the number of invitees, families are willing to spend on expensive jadau sets for the bride. “Jewellery budgets for other female relatives in the family may have reduced, but there’s no change in the bridal jewellery budget,” says Gilara.
As of now, Jaipur is experiencing good demand, as all markets are open. “People want to buy jadau jewellery, and are doing so freely, retailers also have enough stock and aren’t placing new orders. In, say, a month’s time, the situation will improve further, and new inventory may have to be made available,” says Lodha. “Demand is growing. The coming quarter will be exciting, and then there could be a lull for some months, and then again, the market will rise from September,” he adds.
Cancellation of Trade Shows a Problem
Virtual shows have created a stir in the market. “B2B shows are always larger than life, and give the manufacturer a window to showcase his work. In the absence of such shows, this time no new clients were added to our clientele,” laments Raniwala.
“Trade shows have a great impact on the business,” says Gilara, adding, “Trade shows are beneficial for networking. You are able to display the latest products and get to know the market better. But we know that trade shows hold a great risk of infection. The problem is virtual shows do not give the result of a physical show. People want to see and feel jadau jewellery.”
Overall, the pandemic has had a severe impact the on jadau jewellery manufacturing segment, and manufacturers are hoping the coming two quarters will bring some relief.