Designing jewellery is a complex job, involving the interplay of several factors, and there is a constant battle between creativity and practicality. In such a scenario, how do designers make their creations stand out? Suneeta Kaul engages with five designers in an attempt to find out the answers
Jewellery designer – just uttering these words conjures a glamorous image in the mind, and rightly so. Jewellery designing IS a glamorous job, with designers giving in to their creative urges and coming up with jewellery that can be aesthetic and traditional, or edgy and minimalistic, or a blend of heritage and contemporary. But jewellery designing is not all about just being arty and creative – designers have to put in a lot of thought and hard work into ensuring a design becomes a success. If a collection, or a piece of jewellery does not sell, it does not bode well for the business.
INITIATING THE PROCESS OF JEWELLERY DESIGN
Designers have to take several things into consideration while designing a piece of jewellery. Says Rachana Shah, Jhalak Jewellers, Mumbai, “Every piece should look worthy of its cost. There needs to be a fine balance between wearability and the price-point. People are often drawn to something that is different and stands out from the crowd. “Authenticity is crucial to building a strong brand identity. It is important to have a clear vision of your brand identity, and then stay true to your vision and values. The focus should be on creating high-quality designs that stand out in the market and meet customer needs and expectations.” Building a brand and popularizing a design takes time, effort, and persistence. It does not happen overnight. Even so, some creations become a rage within no time, and the reasons may never be clear. Explains Jinesh Mehta, Kaamya Jewels, Mumbai, “The practicality, uniqueness and versatility of a jewel are what helps it gain popularity. For a piece to be widely accepted and loved, its make must be flexible, lightweight, and comfortable – both of which make your jewel a good buy. Its design must have something you’ve not seen before, and it should be versatile enough to go with multiple outfits and looks.”
Blending practicality with creativity poses a constant challenge to jewellery designers. While this is true of any designer’s job, jewellery designing has an extra layer of difficulty in that jewellery is not a need-based product. Designers have to keep thinking ahead, and yet keep themselves grounded, in order to appeal to end consumers
We very firmly believe in creating our own identity. Our creations speaks for our brand and that has been a great advantage for us. We would like to stick to our forte and focus on what we do best, which, in turn, helps our buyers to know exactly where to go for our style of jewellery. HEMA SHAH House of Sparsh, Mumbai
“To make jewellery designs that are not just popular but a rage, it is necessary to think ahead of time and develop concept and ideas that are original and innovative,” says Sumit Dassani, Dassani Brothers, Mumbai, adding, “This factor plays a key role in making your design stand out. Besides, you also need to consider other factors, such as the aesthetic value of jewellery, its price, brand-added value and value preservation, as well as value-added potential. These factors can influence how well your design matches the needs, preferences and expectations of your target consumers and how much they value your jewellery.”
SPECIALIZING OR DIVERSIFYING: WHICH IS BETTER?
Designers also have to take a decision as to whether they want to pursue a singularity of focus, or have multiple creative ideas. Abhishek Raniwala, Raniwala 1881, Jaipur, shares his opinion, saying, “There are obvious benefits to specialization – it attracts more customers and provides a comfort zone by ensuring that they get the type of jewellery and service they expect. Specialization, if done right, enables
brands to enjoy continued business from the existing customer base. It is beneficial, as it is less risky. However, the market needs of today are dynamic with evolving and ever-changing demands. It is important to keep up and expand and improve the existing products. Specialization and diversification are both needed, they go hand in hand.” Not all designers are fans of diversifying beyond a point. They prefer to create a brand identity and stick to it. Says Hema Shah, House of Sparsh, Mumbai, “We, at the House of Sparsh, very firmly believe in creating our own identity. Our creations speaks for our brand and that has been a great advantage for us. We would like to stick to our forte and focus on what we do best, which, in turn, helps our buyers to know exactly where to go for our style of jewellery. We are glad that we have achieved a market of our own with minimal competition by creating collections which we are best at. So diversifying is not something we promote.”
Agrees Mehta, “For Kaamya, specialization is very important. It is best to find your niche and stick to it. What this does is create a very clear positioning in your customers’ minds. For example, our strength is designs inspired by nature. So, when a customer thinks of a flower, or a bird, or an animal brooch, Kaamya will be the first brand that they think of. Having said that, it is good to dip your toes into other categories too, but your strength and core should always be one.”
There are obvious benefits to specialization – it attracts more customers and provides a comfort zone by ensuring that they get the type of jewellery and service they expect. Specialization, if done right, enables brands to enjoy continued business from the existing customer base. It is beneficial, as it is less risky.-ABHISHEK RANIWALARaniwala 1881, Jaipur
DESIGN-DOWN OR MARKET-UP?
While designing is a creative job, the success of a design will ultimately be seen from the point of view of the number of takers it has. So jewellery designers have to figure out whether they want to design in accordance with the market trends, or whether they want to create a design first, and then let the market take over. Dassani explains the merits of both approaches. “Both design-down and market-up approaches have pros and cons for designers. Design-down can allow creativity and originality, but also risk and unpredictability. Designers can create something unusual and be trendsetters, but also face rejection or competition. “Market-up can help relevance and appeal, but also limit creativity and originality. Designers can follow the trends of the market and meet customer needs, but also compromise on their vision or identity. Therefore, designers should balance both approaches.” However, designing being a creative job, not all designers want to play it safe and be practical. “I like to have a little bit of myself and my vision translate into my jewellery. So, the approach I take is design-down,” declares Mehta. “I’d much rather create pieces that fuel my creative urges and play on Kaamya’s strengths, than follow market trends. We want to be trend-setters and not trendfollowers.”
Authenticity is crucial to building a strong brand identity. It is important to have a clear vision of your brand identity, and then stay true to your vision and values. The focus should be on creating high-quality designs that stand out in the market and meet customer needs and expectations.RACHANA SHAHJhalak Jewellers, Mumbai
In spite of doing everything right, a design may not take off the way the designer intended it to. “It is important to remember that not all designs will resonate with all customers. It’s essential to have realistic expectations and understand that not every design will be a commercial success. However, when a particular design is not working well, we try to understand why it didn’t resonate with customers, and use this feedback to improve future designs,” says Shah (Rachana). Then there is the challenge of having to deal with constantly evolving and changing consumer tastes. “In the face of an ever-changing consumer market and the proliferation of multiple options available in this competitive scenario, the jewellery market is not an easy space to operate in. It is difficult to hold one’s position in the market. Moreover, plagiarism and knock-offs are rampant in this digital age of instant information sharing, and it is getting difficult to maintain design exclusivity,” Raniwala explains. Besides, designers have to deal with high consumer expectations – they are always supposed to offer something new. According to Shah (Hema), “As a brand, we are always expected to come up with new styles and collections. This is also one thing which gets the best out of us. There is a constant thought process going behind upcoming collections, which is challenging.” Clearly, creating a design and then ensuring it acquires a cult following is a long-drawn out process, involving a lot of thought, patience, and foresight. It is a tricky business, but when the design does take off, it all seems to be worth the effort.
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