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When Puja Bhargava Kamath graduated from the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), Delhi, 15 years ago, she knew that she wanted to opt for accessory design professionally. Soon after, her stints with leading jewellery houses saw her working with precious metals (gold, platinum and diamonds). It was a creatively diverse but short-lived phase. Kamath found herself veering towards her favourite metal: silver. Today, the 30-something Bengaluru-based jewellery designer is known for her silver baubles, under her label Lai. She also supplies to Fabindia.
Kamath is among a growing ilk of designers who work extensively with silver. In a country with a soft side for gold, silver jewellery has won over many — mainly due to cutting edge designs and the rise of enterprising jewellery designers and brands. Also perhaps the fact that gold is dearer. Amrapali Jewels, for one, is a brand that has consistently crafted beautiful collections — be it tribal, traditional or contemporary — with silver. Rajeev Arora, founder of the brand, admits that people's perception of silver jewellery has undergone a major change over the years. "Today, silver jewellery has a lot of takers, not just in India but even internationally, including among Hollywood stars. Our latest collection is a collaboration with designer Manish Arora, who has used both silver and enamel work. The resulting line, that we showed at the Paris Fashion Week, has 35-40 silver pieces in all, from matha patti and earrings to baju band (armlets) and cummerbund," he enthuses, adding that silver is easy to work with.
According to award-winning Hyderabad-based jewellery designer Suhani Pittie, the biggest advantage while working with silver is the fact that it takes textures and plating very well. "One day I can give it the Rajasthani oxidised finish and the very next day, I can lend it a deep modern 'slate-y' grey finish," she says. Kamath, on the other hand, feels it's her young clientele that has given her wings.