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Why are Creativity and Innovation crucial for Indian Jewellery designers of the 21st Century ?

05 Oct 2020

The 5000-year-old alluring story of India’s jewellery can be traced back to the Indus Valley civilization. But it was only in the 19th century that Indian craftsmen began to create legendary pieces of jewellery for Britain’s royalty, Indian Nizams, and for temple idols of Gods and Goddesses. Using filigree work on gold, embossing work, enamelling and other unique methodologies they created the magnificent kada (North Indian bangle), sarpech (Rajasthans head jewellery), nath (Maharashtra’s nose ring), Vanki (South Indian armlet), Shinka (Gujarats hair jewel), (Oddiyanam (South Indian waist belt) and more traditional jewellery taking inspiration from sculptures and paintings. Over the last decades, innovation and creativity have taken precedence over book knowledge in almost every stream. Jewellery design is no different. Old traditional jewellery forms like Kundan, Jadau, Lac, Meenakari, Navratna, Pachchi, and Temple jewellery are getting a modern twist. 

Contemporary jewellers are influencing haute jewellery, commissioned jewellery, branded jewellery with Indian aesthetics and modern artistry. Today innovation and creativity in jewellery designing is recognized by educational institutes as a critical skill to be developed to succeed in the competitive gems trade.

What is Creativity?

Creativity is defined as ‘the ability to produce or use original and unusual ideas’. It is the introduction of any new idea, method, action, solution, and process to a product that can eliminate existing redundancies and build a better product.  It is done by studying issues, problems, and opportunities. Creative minds attempt to change the existing by using mental abilities to develop something unique and new in a particular context. Creativity is the starting point of innovation. Though the exact creativity mechanism is not known yet, there are several techniques to induce its development.

What is Innovation?

Innovation is defined as ‘a new idea or method, or the use of new ideas and methods’. It is the execution of the creative idea. Innovation is a belief to develop a new product or process to fulfil a demand or solve a problem by implementing the creative idea in a specific area.

Creativity and innovation in jewellery design and manufacture

Having explained both concepts, creativity and innovation, go hand in hand in jewellery design and manufacturing. It is the designers’ creativity that leads to innovative designs. The process involves various stages from research to the final production of a piece of jewellery. It is a series of tasks undertaken by a designer to create a visually aesthetic jewel that is unique, comfortable, durable, and valuable.  

The seed for creative ideas and innovative approaches in the gems and jewellery industry can be planted by – customers’ feedback, employees’ exchange of ideas or designers need to create something different.

Why is creativity important in the jewellery business?

Jewellery has fascinated humankind over the centuries. It has evolved. If there was no creativity, the designs would be limited, repetitive, and common. Creativity in jewellery business is important since it,

- Leads to exploring new and unknown materials, methods, machinery which help to stay a step ahead of the competition.

- Empowers the designer to think out-of-the-box.

- Initiates a wide range of products suitable for both local and international markets.

- Helps to address a problem.

- Creates a brand image.

How important is innovation for designers

The purpose of innovative jewellery design is,

- To create an identity for the product.

- Add value to a collection.

- Induce a ‘tell apart’ character into the final piece.

- Create a powerful visual identity.

- Make the jewellery more emotional, efficient, and eye-catching which realizes the needs and expectations of the wearer.

Steps to creative designing

1. Researching: Basic knowledge needs to be backed by research to present an idea differently. It involves detailed listing of problems, solutions, resources, etc.

2. Idea breeding: Generating an idea is the next step after research. Once you understand why you are creating a product/design, it is best to disregard all practical limitations, search for ideas and brainstorm outside the usual comfort zone.

3. Idea Selection: Every idea needs to be weighed thoroughly before it is shot down. A group of specialists can help evaluate the positive and negative aspects of each idea.

4. Processing: Once a creative idea emerges, it requires the mental ability to process it. Whether a design idea complements a product line or it is an improvement on a pain point or it is a distinct standalone creation, the designer should be able to develop primary sketches.

5. Procedures: At this stage, a jewellery designer has to integrate his/her knowledge of manufacturing. If a new technique is required, the designer will need to introduce it and adapt it for large scale production. Even patents play a role here.

6. Birthing the concept: The last step is to turn the creative idea into a reality. It is the production process that finally transforms a conceptual design into a piece of jewellery.

It is crucial to create a constant supportive environment to give creative and innovative ideas wings. Both a creative idea and innovation can be nurtured.

Marketing and Design

Jewellery design process is all about developing new forms by changing the visual elements. Designers are required to be creative and innovative but cannot function in the exclusion of market variables. Often, large export houses have dedicated marketing teams to recognize the shift in demand. The marketing team tries to predict the market trends through customer feedback, international demand, culture prerequisites, buying habits of millenniums, and price sensitivity. Once this is conveyed to the designer, the designer creates jewellery to suit the potential buyer’s requirement. Thus, marketing and designing have to work closely to produce the most successful and fast-selling designs.

The shift in Indian design

Indian jewellery designs are no longer the secret and skill of a few family artisans that have guarded an art through generations. The growth of the gem and jewellery industry has initiated a need for professional jewellery designers. Today jewellery designing is taught in some of the most reputable institutes of India like Indian Institute of Gems and Jewellery (IIGJ), Gemmological Institute of India (GIA), National Institute of Design (NID) and SNDT amongst others. There are also NGOs who are empowering underprivileged women artisans from local villages through handcrafted jewellery making.

Conclusion

Jewellery designing profession has become increasingly specialized. Designers are pushing their creative limits to introduce newer designs without copying or drawing inspiration from other designers. Today large export houses are employing jewellery designers to remain competitive in international markets. Creating timeless jewellery is the purpose and practice of every designer. This will also be a part of the new normal.

The famous jewellery designer Suzanne Belperron once said, ‘My style is my signature’.


About Rukshana -

Rukshana is a freelance content and communication strategist based out of Mumbai, India. She mingles her expertise in PR with comprehensive domain knowledge and creative writing skills to assist and propagate business, worldwide. Being a quick learner, she utilizes her diversified digital expertise to provide copywriting and content writing services to create highly profitable brands, products, and services.