The concept of repurposing and restyling old jewellery is gaining traction to tackle the skyrocketing gold prices as well as retain savings and heritage craftsmanship in the times of a pandemic. This, in turn, is helping jewellery businesses to sustain themselves.
A broken necklace, an earring whose pair has been lost, a bracelet which doesn’t fit anymore as well as odd bits and ends in gold need not lie at the back of your locker. Not to worry. There are designers who can restyle them into a stunning piece of jewellery that you can wear more often.
“A lot of people want to repurpose their old jewellery right now and are open to virtual consultations. I am so busy with the enquiries I receive, especially through Instagram, that I have asked some of my old clients to hold on to their jewellery for the moment,” shares Mona Shah of Mumbai-based brand Gewels by Mona. Shah has been designing jewellery for the last twenty years and ventured into repurposing jewellery about five years ago.
New look emerging at the sketching stage. Gewels by Mona
She has seen a steady rise in the number of remodelling orders in the last three years and the pandemic has only intensified the demand. “There was no lockdown for me. People are waiting to give me orders. Clients outside Mumbai are willing to courier their jewellery to me even if they can’t come down themselves,” informs Shah.
With gold prices skyrocketing, people are finding new ways to buy and make gold jewellery, opting to turn to their existing collection for new inspiration.
Bringing jewellery out of the lockers
“The beauty about repurposed jewellery is that there is always some sentiment attached to it. It could be a piece of jewellery inherited from a loved one or a gift that makes it so special. Repurposing it to meet the new demands makes it more wearable, while retaining the value of heritage, handmade jewels,” shares Ashwini Oza, Co-Founder of Bengaluru-based Arnav Jewels, who also runs a repurposing jewellery venture called Studio by Ashwini Oza.
She notes that their workshops have been buzzing thanks to the large number of orders for restyling old jewellery. “Many people are opting to give their old jewellery a makeover, especially in these last two months. Families that have upcoming weddings are repurposing jewels that have been lying in the locker, while buying one or two new sets for the bride,” shares Oza. She has clients from Bengaluru, tier-II cities in Karnataka as well as metros like Mumbai and Chennai.
Oza, who has been in the jewellery business for the last 18 years, notes that only a niche set of clients is familiar about the benefits of repurposing jewellery and as jewellers, they are trying to create more awareness about it.
“A client came to me with earrings and bangles — given to her by her two grandmothers. We took both the jewellery pieces and transformed them into hoops, since the bangles were very thin. Every time she wears it, she feels she has the blessings of both her grandmothers,” shares Oza.
Turning dead stock into fast moving lines
Similarly, a client of Shah presented her with a bangle which she turned into a heavy pendant suspending from a long necklace. Shah also reinvents dead stock of a couple of jewellers, breaking them down and turning it into lightweight jewellery. She connected with them when she participated in the India International Jewellery Show (IIJS) last year. She also collaborated with jewellers to restyle jewellery for their clients.
Oza, too, has also restyled some of the dead inventory at Arnav Jewels, making them into smaller, wearable pieces — and these are flying off the shelves.
Repurposing is an art
Shah notes that only a skilled artisan can work on repurposing old jewels. There are a lot of technical challenges such as matching the shade of gold and using the right wires for the delicate materials. Karigars need to know how they can work around the pieces so as not to ruin them.
The process also involves a lot of calculations. The client’s pieces need to be weighed and additional gold and wastage must be calculated with precision.
Handmade v/s machine made
For those who don’t want to part with their jewels but still want to own modern variations of vintage jewels, they turn to jewellery designers like Lara Morakhia. Morakhia had been restyling her vintage jewels for many years before she formally launched her brand in 2018. She sources vintage silver and gold pieces, combines them with polkis, diamonds and pearls and transforms them into wearable art.
“Indian jewellery doesn’t have to be heavy and chunky. I want my jewellery to be worn as effortlessly with Indian outfits and Western dresses. I also combine gold with silver to create individualistic pieces,” shares Morakhia whose one-of-a-kind jewels have an international audience. Her designs have been worn by Oprah Winfrey as well as top B-Town celebrities like Sonam Kapoor, Anushka Sharma, Kajol, Shilpa Shetty and the likes.
Morakhia believes that the sky’s the limit when it comes to creating jewels out of precious vintage finds. The challenge that she faces is to convey that there is a heritage value attached to each piece apart from the tangible value of precious metal in her creations.
Fortunately, this is slowly changing with more consumers becoming conscious about Indian craftsmanship and the worth of handmade as opposed to machine-made products.