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What Makes Women Want Diamond Rings ?

A woman’s eternal desire to feel special, gives rise to her desire for diamond rings. It is indeed strange, isn’t it? How women throughout the globe, irrespective of their nationalities, religions, traditions, family and educational backgrounds, occupations and temperaments, crave for diamond rings? And, how strangely similar their smiles and expressions become when they have a diamond ring slid around their finger!

It is an age-old belief and pattern of thinking firmly entrenched in a woman’s mind that a diamond ring is special. Since childhood she has seen a diamond ring around her mother’s finger. She had loved to play with it. She has grown up listening to the story of how her father proposed to her mother and what that diamond ring meant. Thus are sown the first seeds of desire in the sub-conscious mind of a woman. Then she gradually sees the other engagements and weddings that happen around her as she grows up. Though she understands that an engagement ring need not necessarily be a diamond ring, and engagement only requires true love and commitment, she also notices the high value that the world tends to put on a man who gives a diamond ring to her fiancée. The man’s love for his lady seems to get proclaimed loudly with the glitter of the diamond. And, thus, like a woman’s eternal wish of making the world jealous with her choice of a fiancée or husband, increases her secret desire for a diamond ring.

This is strongly reinforced by romantic novels, movies, albums, greeting cards, posters etc., where a diamond ring is projected as the only emblem of intense love and adoration. The television commercials and other forms of advertisements created by the different diamond companies also attempt consciously to contribute to this belief and desire.

History tells that diamond rings started holding a special value back in the Roman Age. During those times, a man was required to barter for his bride. The idea was to offer the engagement as a security for his commitment to marry. If, later, the man failed on his betrothal, the engagement ring was kept by, the bride, as her financial security. Thus rose the need of offering diamond engagement rings as they had high financial value and their sale would provide good financial security to the scorned bride. Thus the concept, that diamond rings are the most special of all rings, originated from a cause that was only financial and far from anything emotional or romantic.

In the medieval age though, diamond rings began to have a romantic connotation, when the Italians associated diamonds with the flames of love.

The most modern reason happens to be that diamond is the hardest gemstone. This property and the fact that it can have the most versatile setting increases the worth of a diamond ring in the minds of today’s women. The traditional value of it, for being recognized as a symbol of pure and true emotions, also refuses to go from their minds.

If women started to free themselves from their weaknesses towards things like diamond rings, flowers, soft toys and chocolates, women will not be women any more. So, it is better to leave them as they are and pamper them as and when the hour comes.


Meet the Press

A reporter’s request for an interview provides an opportunity to put your store in the spotlight-but you need to be prepared.

Even if you’re right at home talking to a customer over the counter, you may freeze up or start babbling the moment someone says “press.” But a press interview is an opportunity to put your company in the public eye, says Caroline Stanley, president and chief executive officer of Red Jewel Inc, Redondo Beach, Calif, a marketing and communications company specializing in the jewellery industry. “It reinforces the image of you as an expert in your field.” An interview does not mean free advertising. “The press is looking for a story,” says Ellen Fruchtman, president of Fruchtman Marketing, in Toledo, Ohio. Writers want something newsworthy to write about or interesting information for their readers. “Don’t make [the interview] sound like a commercial,” says Daylle Deanna Schwartz, author of Straight Talk With Gay Guys. “The people who get the most good press are those who focus on giving quality suggestions or making interesting statements.”

Be sure you can discuss the subject intelligently, says Stanley. “If you’re not comfortable with the topic, or don’t know enough about it, it’s best to say no.” Suggest topics you feel comfortable with and offer to help at another time, she says. You can also send a press kit. If you decline an interview, do it graciously. “No comment,” says Fruchtman, “is the worst thing you can say.” She recommends doing the interview, if at all possible. “Turning [the press] down looks like you’re not educated [on the topic] or you’re guilty of something.” This doesn’t mean you have to go into an interview cold. “The story has a slant and a focus,” says Tampa, Fla., freelance writer Stephen Morrill. “Ask what those are.” Some writers will e-mail a list of questions or topics they plan to cover so you can prepare. Ask about length, recommends Tarrytown, N.Y., freelance writer Caitlin Kelly, author of Blown Away: American Women and Guns. “Even knowing it’s a 500 word brief and not a 5,000-word opus can help you decide the most important thing to focus on in an interview.”

“A lot of times you can ask for an hour or a day so you have time to gather and organize your thoughts,” says Stanley, though this might not be possible if the writer is on deadline. There’s no reason to be nervous about talking to the press, says Morrill. “A reporter is usually not out to get you.” At the same time, you should not see your interview as a road to stardom. “[Do] not be flattered by a reporter’s request for an interview,” warns Alice Shane, adjunct professor of journalism at New York University. “This can lead to ego inflation, which can generate foolish, self-serving comments you might regret.” When talking to the press, don’t say “anything you don’t want to see in print,” says Stanley. “You should be willing to see it in print the next day and not be embarrassed by it—or wrong.” “When speaking with a reporter, everything you say can be quoted and printed—so be careful,” says Doug Rossi, editorial director of Rossi & Co., in New York, and a former newspaper editor. Unless you’ve agreed at the beginning to be quoted as an unnamed source, avoid saying anything negative. “People won’t trust you with juicy information if they think it will appear in print.” Conducting yourself in an interview with the press is not unlike a job interview—or meeting your prospective in-laws for the first time. Think about the image you want to maintain, says Schwartz. Don’t use turns of phrase, slang, or other language you don’t want attributed to you.

“Remember that you are the expert in this field, and your job is to help the interviewer convey accurate information,” says Joan Price, author of Better Than I EverExpected: Straight Talk About Sex After Sixty. That includes the basics: Give the writer your full title, the correct spelling of your name, any special spellings of the company name, and the Web site address. Be sure she has contact information—phone number or e-mail address—in case of later questions. “Be as specific as possible with numbers,” says Morrill. “If you don’t know the specific answer to a question, go get it, or have someone get it, or promise to have that information phoned or e-mailed by the close of business.” Be quotable. The writer wants to make the article entertaining as well as informative for the reader. But don’t entertain at the expense of accuracy and information. If you’re not clever or funny, be clear and correct.

“Don’t bluff. If you don’t know an answer, or you’re not the right person to address a particular question, say so,” says Price. “Don’t lie,” says Rossi. “If you’re caught in one, your credibility is gone.” Good reporters will have done their homework and may already know the answer to the question. “Most people feel intimidated by being interviewed because they feel an odd mix of power and powerlessness,” says Austria-based freelance writer Patti McCracken. “They are in the spotlight; yet do not have final say regarding how they’re represented.” Try to make sure you’re quoted correctly. “Think about what you want to say before you say it,” says Chelsea Lowe, an essayist and former news reporter from Brookline, Mass.
“But you shouldn’t overthink what you’re going to say. People can be overcautious.” Speak clearly and “in full sentences,” says Schwartz. “It sounds better for you and has something substantial [for the reader].” “Avoid jargon,” says Lowe. “Use clear language.” “Make the main point succinctly first, then explain/define/ amplify—rather than getting at the point in a roundabout way,” says Price. “Realize that just a phrase might be quoted, so make every phrase as clear and powerful as possible.” If you’ve wandered a bit, or you think you may have been misunderstood, ask the writer to paraphrase what you’ve said, or to read back what he’s written down. Correct any misstatements or misunderstandings immediately.

It’s important to get it right the first time, because once an interview is done, it’s done. You can ask to see your quotes before the article goes to press, but the publication may have a policy prohibiting that. And most writers won’t want to release their drafts. Because you want to get it right, “every company should designate a spokesperson,” says Fruchtman. “Make sure they’re the person most intelligent about the industry, and who presents himself or herself well.” Be honest. This person may not be the owner of the company, but the owner’s spouse, a manager, or a son or daughter coming into the business. “Choose someone who is comfortable and knowledgeable and will represent the firm well,” says Stanley.
The spokesperson should be “fairly well educated about your business, and the jewellery business,” says Fruchtman. “You need to be prepared to answer difficult questions. Be aware of what’s happening that affects the industry. Be up on what the consumer press is saying. Know what the chatter is about the industry.” Whoever your spokesperson is, says Fruchtman, work with a public relations or marketing company to get media training. “And don’t take it lightly,” she says. Once you’ve appointed and trained a spokesperson, no one else should speak to the press, she adds. A successful interview offers the reader an interesting story and gives your business positive exposure.

Making Up a Press Kit

A press kit outlines your company’s background and focus, says Caroline Stanley, president and CEO of Red Jewel Inc., Redondo Beach, Calif. It can include a description of the company’s history, with profiles of founders or current owners. Add information about your products and services, including brochures and copies of print ads. Details of your business philosophy, mission statement, and areas of expertise are excellent. Other press clippings serve as a third-party endorsement. Remember to include contact information, especially if the company spokesperson is different from the company owner. Put it all in a neat folder, imprinted with your company name and logo. Use the kit to introduce your company to the press, or to a designer whose line you want to carry. Kits need not be identical. Add and subtract information to suit the situation—for a writer, you may or may not include print ads, but you’ll want to include your areas of expertise and some background information. Keep a few press kits ready at all times.

Need of the hour: Hallmarking

The Indian government postponed the implementation of the Gold Hallmarking Act, which was scheduled to come into effect from 1 January 2008, due to apprehensions by jewelers, led by the All India Gems and Jewellery Trade Federation (GJF), officially representing about three lakh retailers across India. The hallmarking act would have made mandatory for all gold jewellery to be certified for purity at centers spread across the country.

According to GJF, licensing is the major issue which will hamper the growth of the jewelry industry. The BIS (Bureau of Indian Standards) licensing, which reminded jewellers of the ‘Gold Control Act’, is applicable only on the jewelry industry, echoing the times of the ‘Licensing Raj’. “We’ve seen the draconian effect of Gold Control Act, and we’re not ready for that experience again. The paperwork and procedure should be simple and transparent with the absence of taxation and rigidity in licensing system,” commented Atul Jain, director of AR Diamond Gem Grading Services. Some of the other objections raised included insufficient infrastructure and the precondition for a jeweler to have a license for selling hallmarked jewellery. Jain also mentioned that the license charges should be made affordable for the small jewelers, rather than catering to just the bigger players.

SL Palkar, regional coordinator, BIS-western region told JCK India, “Earlier the charges for licenses were Rs25,000 per year, but we are now charging the same amount for three years.” It was also necessary for BIS officials to visit the showroom prior to approval, but now the BIS requires jewelers to submit a photograph of the showroom with a declaration that they will not stock cadmium jewelry. “We issue licenses within two hours of the submission of required documents,” Palkar claimed.

Out of the 35 states and union territories in India, currently there are 106 hallmarking centres in 14 states, which have close to 5,000 licensee jewelers, according to the Indian Association of Hallmarking Centres (AIHC). An additional 12 states have more than 500 licensee jewelers, but no hallmarking centres. The remaining nine states and union territories have neither licensee jewelers nor hallmarking centres.

The four metropolitan cities of New Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai currently have 41 hallmarking centres. The AIHC is adding 17 to take this number up to 58 by the first week of January 2009. Industry experts say this is still a fraction of the estimated infrastructure requirement of 500 centres for the successful infrastructure implementation of compulsory hallmarking.

Remarking on the weak infrastructure issue Uday Kumar Vummidi, secretary, Gems and Jewellery India International Exhibition (GJIIE) commented, “Hallmarking will definitely facilitate the growth of the industry, but it should be made mandatory only with adequate arrangement of proper infrastructure. It should be convenient, comfortable and accessible to every jeweller.”

However, BIS deputy director general P Sengupta finds the demand for more centres baseless, as even most of the existing ones are underutilised. “Despite this, the government is providing huge financial incentives for new centres, offering subsidy of Rs1-1.5 crore on each centre.

According to Indian Association of Hallmarking Centres’ Secretary, James Jose, only around 10 percent of the 106 existing hallmarking centres are working at full capacity. “There are huge unutilised capacities in the hallmarking centres - the average capacity of a hallmarking centre is roughly 2,500 pieces or 35 kilograms per day, which works out to 10 tonnes per annum.” Thus, the 106 centres across the country can hallmark more than 1,000 tonnes of jewellery every year, versus the actual hallmarking happening of less than 200 tonnes.

India’s annual consumption of gold jewelry went up from an estimated 65 tonnes in 1982 to 620 tonnes in 2000. However, there was no hallmarking of jewelry done in this period. For the first time, a mere two tonnes of jewelry was hallmarked in 2001, when jewelry consumption touched 615 tonnes. By 2007, India hallmarked 180 tonnes of jewelry against a consumption of nearly 560 tonnes.

Anticipating mandatory hallmarking, which was to be implemented in January 2008, many new centres sprang up in small towns as well as in the metros, irrespective of the volume of jewelry that can be hallmarked in these places. Commenting on low capacity utilisation, Jose said: “For instance, though the existing volume of hallmarked jewelry in Mysore is not sufficient even for a single centre, it has four hallmarking centres. The same is applicable for Kollam in Kerala, where daily hallmarking volumes are hardly five percent of installed capacity. Of all the licensee jewelers, only around 25 percent go for 100 percent hallmarking.”

The act also calls for jewelr y below five grams to be hallmarked, though it will not have enough space to be stamped. Jewelers demanded exemption of such jewelry from the act. They believed “the onus of lower purity of hallmarked jewelry should lie on the hallmarking centres and not jewellers,” and are demanding this aspect be clearly stated in the amended act. Also, hallmarking done by manufacturers should be acceptable and need not be double-checked by the retailer.

Despite supporting the government’s stance on hallmarking, most jewellers want to see serious measures taken on the issues like certain kinds of jewellery, like meenakari, kundan and polki type handcrafted jewelry, being exempt from hallmarking. Speaking in favour of hallmarking, Tumal Jain, secretary, Delhi Jewellers Association said, “Hallmarking is always better for the trade. It is going to help to win consumer confidence.” But he also believed jewelry having less than five percent metal elements (which is worth Rs20 lakh, but comprises precious metals worth Rs5,000) should be exempted.”

Vivek Kala, president of Jaipur Jewellers Association agreed with Tumal Jain. “There should be a proper declaration of the clauses mentioned in the act. Jewelers like us who deal with colored stone or diamond-studded jewellery, need to certify the diamonds, emeralds, rubies and sapphires. The government should also take into account special cases like customised designs. If a customer goes for his choice of designer ring, the already hallmarked pieces will remain unsold.”

“Jewelers should be allowed to keep both certified and non-certified jeweller y. The customer is well educated; he has a clear idea of what he is buying. If the customer himself starts demanding hallmarked jewelry, jewelers will have to stock it,” Atul Jain said.

Interestingly, a 2006 government survey of 16 cities found that of 162 samples, more than 90 percent failed in terms of purity. This means a customer who bought gold jewelry labelled 22k could have in reality been cheated by being sold 18k jewelry.

Commenting on errors in karat declaration, BIS’ Sengupta commented: “We have found many such cases, where the customer is fooled by the jeweler. The jewelry is actually 22k; but the jeweller sells it as 24k jewellery, which in today’s scenario could cost an additional Rs1,200- 1,300.”

In 1998-99, World Gold Council (WGC) and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) together introduced hallmarking in India on the back of the RBI Precious Metal Committee’s report stating the need of quality control in jewelry to safeguard the consumers’ rights. After the inception of the first hallmarking centre in April 2000, the committee conducted surveys in 2001 and 2006, and both times the findings were uninspiring. Also, as per a recent BIS survey around 87 percent of the gold jewelery sold in India is below the stated karatage level. All these reports were more than enough to force the government to make it compulsory for the jewelry industry to hallmarking the jewelry, officials explained.

The government is now reforming the act, the bill for which is pending in parliament, considering the issues raised by the jewelers. Representing jewelers’ optimism, GJF chairman, Ashok Minawala, told JCK India, “We showed loopholes in the bill, which would have acted as big hurdles in activation otherwise. The government has promised us that it is going to make amendments considering our demands.” The government has also assured the industry of a sixty-day-preparatory period before the act is finally implemented.

“Among the recent developments in the Hallmarking Act was the inclusion of a new karat introduced in the industry, namely the 17 karat (with a fineness 708), so that the items rejected on 18 karat fineness can also be put up for sale with a marking of lower karatage,” Jose said, adding: “Marking to next lower fineness or karatage is possible in 22 karat and 18 karat too, and jewelry below two grams and nine karat is exempt from hallmarking. The hallmarking technology too has improved as the centres can now hallmark up to 99.9 against 99.5 earlier.”

Kala believed hallmarking will work as a catalyst for jewelry trade, but should be a voluntary process. “Jewelers who stock hallmarked jewelry can promote themselves through extensive media campaigns. It will create awareness among consumers, which in turn will further push the demand for hallmarked jewellery. Those who will deny hallmarking will suffer losses and will have to opt for hallmarking. Therefore consumers’ education is the best means to implement hallmarking.”

An interesting point was raised by Gaurav Anand, owner of Indore-based Punjab Jewellers, who said that hallmarking should be implemented at the manufacturing level, so damages can be cleaned up before the jewelry reaches the retailer. “There is only one hallmarking centre in Indore and it is sufficient to cater to the needs of Indore jewelers.”

Though India is home to various types of handcrafted jewelry, exports are limited only to cut and polished diamonds. According to industry experts, mandatory hallmarking along with the Vienna Convention will create new avenues for jewelry export. “It will make Indian jewelry acceptable anywhere in the world without any further quality checks,” Jose said.

(click on image to enlarge)

International Gemstone Trends

With the emerging popularity of gemstones, many consumers who are beginning to form a part of the market for gemstones are looking for answers to various questions with regards to color, cut, price and jewelry styles that are fashionable and trendy.

The fact of the matter is that the gemstone industry is so large and varied that there are various international trends running in at the same time. Additionally, there are many people who tend to have different reasons for purchasing gemstones other than just fashion trends. Some buy gemstones due to superstitious beliefs and the mystical powers that some of the gemstones are believed to possess. The alexandrite, for example, is known to increase the intuitive powers of the wearer and is believed to help during times of crisis. The aquamarine brings forth youth and joy, the coral is effective during financial troubles, jade has healing powers, iolite opens the inner eye and increases wisdom, the garnet brings prosperity, cat’s eye helps in warding away bad fortune and much more. The popularity of certain gemstones is impacted significantly due to these beliefs. The blue sapphire is one such example where people believed that it can either be extremely positive for the wearer or extremely negative, causing accidents and threats to life in some cases. Since the preference for specific gemstones is based more on individual requirements as against a fashion trend, many of these gems have their own niche customers who require it for various purposes.

There are also people who prefer to choose their gemstones on the basis of the colors that they fancy. Given that the awareness of gemstones is increasing there is knowledge about the fact that there are various kinds of gemstones. Till a few years back, women thought and talked only about the diamond when gemstones were discussed. While the diamond has carved (no pun intended) an elite niche of itself, other precious gemstones like the ruby, emerald, garnets and more have moved in. With additional knowledge also came an understanding of the fact that each gemstone could be available in various colors and that each color has its own uniqueness. People therefore chose their gemstones based on their favorite colors and the dress for the occasion (especially for the not-so-expensive gemstones). From saturated shades of green to vibrant red, blue sapphires, dazzling yellow and even mauve, each one can have their pick from rubies, emeralds, sapphires, garnets, tourmalines, amethyst, tanzanite, corals and more.

In spite of the increasing popularity of gemstones, they are not readily available in all markets. And therefore the more adventurous and innovative gemstone wearers tend to buy what is available in the market. But the connoisseurs, experts and those who have been buying gemstones for some time tend to collect gemstones based on their uniqueness and rarity.
But internationally, gemstone trends and fashions tend to follow haute couture. When the release of fall winter collections brings forth dark earthy shades of brown as the trend for the season, experts offer expert advice to match these with designer gemstones like the ‘champagne’ diamond, tiger’s eye, fire opal or the yellow brown topaz. Summer time brings about lighter and more pastel hues that can be accentuated by bright transparent pink tourmalines or sapphires to light blue sapphires and mauve amethysts.

When it comes to the cut, standard cuts and classic styles have made way for fancy cuts like the briolette teardrop and checkerboard facets. These are being used in necklaces and other jewellery items like earrings and even bracelets and rings. Arguably, the standard round, oval and more recent rectangular cuts may never die, fancy cuts are preferred these days since they are uncommon and stylish. The brilliance of these cuts is unmatched and far superior to the classic cuts that were popular in the yesteryears.

Even though availability of the product locally may be an issue, those who are mesmerized by the beauty of gemstones and their variety can source these from the Internet if they are not available locally. Even manufacturers and marketers who are involved with the industry and want to source roughs need to just access the Internet to find various providers across the world be it in South Africa, Tanzania, Europe, Sri Lanka or the Indian subcontinent.

What Is Enamelling Or Surface Ornamentation ?

Enamelling or surface ornamentation is not merely an art; it is the expression of an artist which he tries to depict through his art.

The art of decorating metal with enamelling or Meenakari was alien to India, until the Mughals—the true lovers of art—introduced it. Raja Man Singh of Amber brought meenakari to Rajasthan at the turn of the 16th century. He brought skillful meenakars from the Mughal palace at Lahore and established them in Jaipur, which became the center of meenakari. Enamelling here is done in the champleve technique, which means that the surface of gold or silver is hollowed out so that the cavity can be filled with a mineral.

The art flourished and spread to many parts of India. This was the common decorative link between Muslim and Hindu art. The synthesis of these two cultures produced a period of grandeur and brilliance that dazzled the world.

Today this art is restricted to the state of Rajasthan, some parts of Chamba in Himachal Pradesh and Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh. Just one family is involved in pink enamelling of Varanasi as of today.

In Rajasthan, traditional designers are the experts who draw the motifs directly on the metal. This art requires specialist craftsmanship calling for both high accuracy and predictably, style. The Jaipur enamellists have a special engraving pattern, which depends on transparent and opaque colors. Panchrangi Mina is a technique where five colors are used namely, transparent dark blue, transparent green, transparent red, opaque light blue and opaque white. Jaipur is also famous for reverse side enamelling. In this style, the visible front usually displays gemstones and enameling is done on the reverse, to protect the gold from abrasion and in the process increasing the value of the gold used.

The other way is when the piece to be enameled is fixed on lac and designs are traced out. The metal is pushed with an engraver and a wall is made out of the metal. The wall is made to hold the colors within its boundary, while engravings are made in the grooves to heighten the beauty of the jewel. The surface is completely burnished by agate; then the enamel colors are filled in a painstaking manner similar to how miniature paintings are made. (There are artisans who still make miniature portraits of kings, gods and goddesses). The piece is baked on a high fire range on a mica plate to keep it off the fire. Colors are applied in order of their hardness, those requiring more heat first and those requiring less heat later.

More than one craftsman was often involved in the making of a single piece of jewellery. The chiterias made the design, the ghaarias did the engraving, the enameller did meenakari and the sunar was the goldsmith. These craftsmen received patronage from the nobles and the kings and therefore, they did not have to compromise their art for the sake of popular taste.

Reviving the Art

The government can retrieve this dying art in the form of art camps, by providing permanent space (for example, Delhi has Delhi haat) free of avoidable costs like taxes, etc, organize fairs or craft bazaars, where stalls are free and even by way of honors and awards (mostly monetary).

Here is a list of reasons why this art is dying. Very few art lovers really appreciate art in the right spirit and are ready to pay the price. The cost of basic raw materials like, gem stone powder, has risen drastically, artisans have started using colored glass as a substitute, affecting the art’s authenticity, which is truly a matter of concern. The elaborate technique of firing at different temperatures to get the right color gets cumbersome. Thus the easy availability of low cost synthetic enamelling material that does not require the tedious procedure of firing and which is easy to apply, does not chip off easily and lasts longer. But this is killing the original art form. The jeweler/manufacturer also charges the client a huge amount for this art, but does not share profits with the almost underpaid artisan.

There is another side to the coin that we must understand. Surface ornamentation is not merely an art; it is the expression of an artist, which he tries to depict through his art. The design or the inspiration drawn is from nature and life. Thus, each piece has its own unique style and identity with a concept behind the creation.

Export firms are trying to develop this technique, but facing a crucial problem in consistency of color and shade for a large order. They are facing tough competition from Italy in the world market. Many jewelry designing schools and fine art colleges are teaching enamelling, but none of them are able to give effective results. There have to be combined efforts from the government, jewelers and students to revive and respect this art and the artisans.

Devinder Layal is the designer and Head, Jasani Department of Jewellery Design and Manufacture, PV Polytechnic, SNDT Women’s University.