Dr. Parag Vyas: ‘India Must Develop Indigenous Technology’

Dr. Parag K. Vyas needs no introduction in the field of gems and jewellery. An IITian and a pioneer in the field of jewellery designing and technology with years of training experience in companies like Titan, and numerous workshops under his belt, Dr. Vyas shares his take on current and future scenarios of the industry.

Making the industry future-ready is a task undertaken by a handful of pioneers such as Dr. Parag K. Vyas. He has been working towards development of the industry by imparting knowledge that upgrades artisans in the areas of tools and technology, thus preparing the industry to deliver products with precision and accuracy.

Dr. Vyas’ research and doctoral thesis ‘Investigation of Preferential Likeness of Kundan Jewellery’ is considered a seminal work by the industry and academia alike. He also contributes research papers to journals and conferences on a regular basis.

You are known as a pioneer in the field of jewellery design and technology. Please tell us more about yourself and how did you foray into the field of jewellery?

I come from a humble family of scholars and teachers. I obtained a degree in Mechanical Engineering followed by a Masters in Design at Industrial Design Centre at IIT Bombay. There, my love for miniature precision and intricate work drew me into the domain of jewellery, and this has also helped me in various other fields like product detailing and development.

How has the journey been so far? Tell us about your experience in training the industry?

My journey has been beautiful. There have been so many interesting experiences with amazing people from all over the industry. Interacting, teaching and learning with industrialists, entrepreneurs, teachers and students, thinkers and captains of the industry – all of  it has been deeply satisfying.

Training some of the best professionals was an important part of this journey. One of those programmes, ‘Training of Trainers’ with Titan Company for their Capacity Building Centre was a memorable one. Another programme, ‘Training of Jewellery Toolmakers’ is one of my seminal works, which could perhaps shape the future of the industry in coming times.

I am fortunate that I was able to establish a Fine Metalwork Laboratory and Fine Toolmaking workshop in Indore. Many of my research papers originate from my work here at Grau Bar Design Studio, and these have also been published in international conferences and journals.

Tell us about the Indian gem and jewellery industry’s adoption of the latest technology?

The Indian jewellery industry has adopted a lot of technology from outside of India within our systems. It is time to move on to developing indigenous practices which would suit the industry better. In an ideal  scenario, I would like to see tools, implements and devices custom-made to make Indian jewellery. The language of Indian jewellery and vivid forms is so rich, it deserves technology of its own.

To begin with, the Indian jewellery industry can think in this direction and take steps by supporting research and development.

What are your views on the current Indian jewellery manufacturing standards? Are Indian manufacturers embracing technology to produce collections that are of global standards?

Current jewellery manufacturing standards may differ from region to region. There is a wide range of quality parameters – something that’s considered acceptable in one set-up, may not be in another. Due to this disparity, there is a clear and present scope for improvement, and collectively, we are advancing in that direction.

Some people are doing quality work and are on par with the competition, some are patiently working towards quality.

In my opinion, the Indian jewellery industry can do much better and we have the potential for it. The Indian DNA is well-suited for intricate precision work; we can see that in all walks of life, for example, intricate figurines in temples, stone carvings, etc.

What are the areas that you think Indian gem and jewellery manufacturers should improve to be more competitive in the international market?

I am secure in the knowledge of our global presence as frontline leaders of jewellery design and manufacturing in the international market despite the competition.

The Indian gem and jewellery manufacturers are trying to work towards quality finishes. There are a few areas that could benefit from extra attention, such as surface finishes, precision and accuracy. Work in these fields needs to be more methodical and systematic.

The Indian jewellery industry is one of the oldest and richest in the world. We have withstood the test of time. So in a sense, we were here before, we are here still, and we yet have miles to go…

What steps can one take to make this industry more organised in terms of retaining skilled artisans and upgrading their skills so that they can be proficient in using technology to their advantage?

By bringing a sense of dignity and pride in handwork, we can retain competent people in the industry. Indian artisans have worked behind the scenes and anonymously for decades, but they used to feel a sense of pride in their good craftsmanship. This used to reflect in their work, whether it’s jewellery articles or statues in the temple.

Dignity automatically follows when one does good work, which is a reward in itself. Monetary rewards work, but only to a limited extent and there comes a point beyond which it is up to oneself to evolve and progress.

Tell us about your association with GJEPC.

My experience with the GJEPC has been educative, enriching and mutually fulfilling.

We have worked together in remote locations such as Port Blair, Andaman Islands, and conducted two workshops on Shell Jewellery and new product forms.

We have done some great developmental work which won accolades at the National level, and this led to the development of new styles and working methods. We also worked together on technology development and new techniques in a Craft to Design workshop ‘Abhushan’ – a landmark project. This led to many following workshops in Bangalore, Jaipur and Mumbai among others.

Recently, I was part of the GJEPC’s Uncut Workshop series. I held three virtual workshops on the improvement of techniques in bench working, surface finishing and quality standards.

We also conducted multiple other webinars for different industry groups and we will continue doing that during this ‘digital era’ brought upon us by the pandemic.

Where do you see the Indian gems and jewellery industry 10 years from now?

The jewellery fraternity has all the reasons to be proud of itself, having stood tall through these trying times. All we need to do is wake up and realise our strengths.

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