KARACHI: Vibrant, colourful, glittering and clinking glass bangles ... women in our part of the world wear these not just to match with their clothes, they also associate them with marriage. Though this is taken very seriously in neighbouring India, here in Pakistan, too, a widow rarely wears glass bangles. It is a jewellery accessory for happy occasions. The days ahead of Eid used to see bangle sales picking up, but the trend seems to be changing.
“People want funky jewellery and glass bangles are the epitome of gracefulness and sophistication, well, at least the younger lot see it that way. And they go for casual stuff, they don’t like fuss,” said Shujaat while arranging his sets of silver and gold plastic bangles and cheap bracelets. “They may be plastic but they have glitter too, they sparkle too,” he said gesturing to the bracelets.
“I like glass bangles but my teenage girls prefer bracelets as they find the bangles too delicate. They break easily and taking them off and putting them on again during housework such as cooking, washing dishes or dusting isn’t practicable, so I have just stopped wearing them altogether,” said Shamim Liaquat, helping her two young girls pick out a couple of bracelets to go with their Eid clothes.
Mohammad Danish, who runs a big glass bangles shop in the basement of Gold Mark shopping Centre in Defence Phase-I, agreed that their customers had dropped to almost 50 per cent in the last few years. “Maybe not as big but there still is a market for glass bangles, especially for weddings and Eid,” he said while showing a customer a set of pretty green bangles.
“Green bangles sell rather well as they are liked during henna ceremonies ahead of weddings. Red and maroon also sell as most brides wear those on their big day. For Eid, this year, navy blue seems like a popular colour.”
The industry for glass bangles is in Hyderabad. “Yes, they are all made in Hyderabad and we get them at wholesale rates at Liaquatabad, where all the new styles and stocks arrive first straight from Hyderabad,” said his brother Mohammad Arsalan.
“Thanks to Indian movies and plays, some customers come asking for Indian-style bangles,” he added while pointing towards several sets of metallic bangles with mirror work. Although also made locally, a set was priced at Rs950. “Of course that price is for the bargainers. We start with Rs950 and may go down to Rs650, not any less as we ourselves get a set for Rs500 in wholesale,” he said.
Meanwhile, all the shopkeepers of glass bangle shops had glitter over their faces and hands. “Well, what to do? The excess glitter from the bangles is always coming off,” laughed one such shopkeeper. “We shine, our bangles shine!”
Published in Dawn, July 15th, 2015