The jewellery aficionado has had a change of heart. Till only about a decade ago, the pièce de résistance in a woman’s wardrobe would be glinting diamonds and exorbitant jewellery sets fashioned from heavy duty gold. There were chokers, earrings, rings, jhoomars, teekas and bangles, glinting in gold, engraved with a constellation of precious stones. Gold, of course, is still a wardrobe mainstay especially for the newly married bride or the woman wanting to add an expensive touch to a simple outfit — but close on its heels is intricately crafted statement-wear paving a new realm of sartorial options.
“The bride will always wear gold but other people at a wedding may opt for a single piece of jewellery that stands out,” says Sana Hafeez Sheikh, the representative of Indian brand Outhouse Jewellery in Pakistan. This single piece may be gold or it could be metal dexterously designed into a variety of options. The latest line at Outhouse, for instance, varies from the delicate ‘Bridesmaid’ collection to the ‘Butterfly’ line. The jewellery varies from earrings, chokers, bangles and rings, proceeding on to hand harnesses, ear-cuffs, midi rings, body harnesses, head harnesses, maang teekas and ear pendants that dangle right down to the shoulder bone!
Gold is not out but designer jewellery in polished gold is making a mark among the hip crowd
“I introduced Outhouse to the Pakistani market about three years ago and I have noticed that the more avant-garde pieces, like body harnesses and ear pendants, are admired but not usually purchased,” continues Sana. “Inevitably, women will opt for jewellery that they can use on multiple occasions. And while Outhouse jewellery is basically metal, plated with 22 karat rose-gold or gold, it is created with great finesse and worked with precious and semi-precious stones and Swarovski crystals. A single piece can allow the wearer to stand out.”
Nudging into Outhouse’s niche as statement-wear are a range of other brands like Esfir Jewels and Rema Luxe. “It’s come as a surprise to me that even brides are interested in trendy jewellery especially when it comes to smaller wedding events leading up to the main reception,” observes Rema Qureshi, the brains behind Rema Luxe. “My jewellery is in brass but it is gold-plated. For traditional designs, I work with a lot of Swarovski and add in kundan.” Rema’s modern line consists of rings, midi rings, multi-band rings, panjas and earrings worked with chains. “The latest collection is inspired by marine life and incorporates corals and sapphires.”
Nevertheless, designers admit that there’s a certain age that has a predilection for statement baubles. “The majority of our clients range between ages 20 and 40,” observe Tasbih Qazi and Hafsa Zuberi, co-founders of Esfir Jewels. “These are the people that particularly enjoy our innovations with copper, silver, semi-precious stones, and traditional meenakari. Still, we do appeal to other age groups, from girls in their teens to women in their 60s.” Esfir, once again, endeavours to cater to the wedding-bound crowd and also offers quirky pieces that can work just as well for an afternoon soiree.
On a more traditional note, Amber Sami stands in a league of her own with designs that possibly appeal to every woman with an eye for beautiful jewellery. Seeking inspiration from the subcontinent’s cultural heritage, filigree and peacocks flit on to Sami’s designs. Beads are set into intricate layers, kundan-work glints in gold-plated silver settings, kite-shaped pendants are in-laid with stones and the timeless chand-baali is set in myriad colours.
The majority of our clients range between ages 20 and 40,” observe Tasbih Qazi and Hafsa Zuberi, co-founders of Esfir Jewels. “These are the people that particularly enjoy our innovations with copper, silver, semi-precious stones and traditional meenakari. Still, we do appeal to other age groups, from girls in their teens to women in their 60s.”
Beyond the blingy requirements of the wedding-bound crowd, one also sees cutting-edge, more economical options enter the fray. Khaula Jamil, for instance, has long been paying ode to her home-city with her K For Karachi range. The photographer-cum-designer creates veritable souvenirs by taking pictures around Karachi and miniaturising them on to pure silver earrings, pendants, bracelets, rings and cuff-links. “There is an element of nostalgia that draws people towards my designs. Also, the pieces are keepsakes that can be worn over the years and continue to look trendy.”
At Inaaya, designer Naushaba Brohi ingeniously applies the indigenous traditions of paranda-making and mirror-work onto earrings, matha-pattis, multi-tiered necklaces, earrings and belts. Zohra Rahman, meanwhile, stands out for her contemporary use of everyday items: paper clips fashioned into earrings and neck-pieces, overlapping sequins wound into chokers and earrings fashioned to resemble torn paper. A bit too avant-garde for the local customer? Perhaps. But Zohra’s designs are truly artistic and give one a peek into just how exciting accessory design can be.
In fact, most modern jewellery design venturing out into Pakistani fashion is a far cry from the formulaic, unimaginative patterns that are still considered to be essential ornaments by many. Bit by bit, this new-age jewellery — fashioned from brass, copper and silver, among other metals — is steering accessorising towards exciting new territory.
Published in Dawn, EOS, July 16th, 2017