'Ease of use is the current trend in jewellery': Shamlal Ahamed

Ease of use  is the current trend in jewellery: Shamlal Ahamed

There's a lot that's trending in the world of dazzling accessories. Shamlal Ahamed, managing director - International operations - of Malabar Gold & Diamonds, on why designs need to be constantly reimagined

For 25 years now, Malabar Gold & Diamonds has been at the forefront of setting new trends in the world of jewellery design. From traditional classics to contemporary, lightweight pieces, the brand has always had something to offer to everyone. In a conversation with WKND, its MD, international operations, Shamlal Ahamed talks about the brand's glorious journey.

It's been 25 years since Malabar Gold & Diamonds was founded. What would you say is the biggest difference between jewellery design then (in the early-mid 90s) and now?
Over the years, we have witnessed a vast change in jewellery design and usage. However, this is in line with the changing trends in fashion and lifestyle. Jewellery is a form of expression for an individual; with changes in lifestyle, fashion, disposable income, etc, the design and usage has evolved to be relevant for the audience. Some of the notable changes are preference for diamond jewellery, solitaires, precious gem jewellery and daily-wear lightweight jewellery. In terms of the category, customers have begun to prefer more of pendants, bracelets, earrings and rings as compared to necklaces. Even the preference for different types of gold, like pink/rose gold and white gold, has substantially increased.

In a place like the UAE - which is a more cosmopolitan market than, say, India - how do you keep reinventing jewellery design to keep in step with the environment, and changing tastes?
Being relevant to the consumer is the very reason why we have been able to survive and grow in the past 25 years. With the help of our dedicated product development and design team that comprises of experts in different fields and using the latest technology, we produce hundreds of ingenious styles to suit the ever-changing needs of the market. Our manufacturing excellence and skilled craftsmanship also help us get a competitive advantage in the market with regards to reducing the production timelines and being able to bring the latest designs to the market.

Do you conduct any market surveys to get an idea on what customers are looking for? What have been some of your major findings - and how have you incorporated those into your products?
Frequent research is conducted using in-house as well as global research agencies to understand and predict future trends, designs and customer preferences. We also participate in major jewellery exhibitions like Hong Kong International Jewellery Show, India International Jewellery Show, MidEast Watch & Jewellery Show, Istanbul Jewellery Show, among others, to understand the market. At present, we see a significant demand for lightweight and multi-use jewellery, which can be worn on multiple occasions and is subtle as well as sophisticated. Apart from this, the major growth is in the demand for solitaires and diamond jewellery.

What are the most popular jewellery items these days?
As mentioned earlier, the jewellery items that are popular these days are lightweight and stylish pieces that require less care. This trend has come in taking in mind the ease of use. Customers are also searching for uniqueness in the adornments they own. Therefore, we have brought about bespoke jewellery solutions, where the customers can speak with our designers to create their own unique jewellery piece. This search for uniqueness has also made diamond jewellery attractive to customers.

Are millennials keen on gold and diamond jewellery? Tell us why they would go for an 'ethnic' brand instead of a more 'global', aspirational brand.
Every generation opts for jewellery that helps them express their personality. It should complement their identity. Similarly, millennials also prefer jewellery that suits their personality. We have seen millennials choose gold as well as diamond jewellery, however, their primary consideration is design. They buy pieces that accentuate their attire and style.
When you get brand ambassadors, what kind of message do you want to send out to potential customers?
In general, we look into their credibility, global appeal and personality. We took a path less trodden by choosing male celebrities initially to represent our brand since we wanted to represent the importance of the family as a whole in making a gold purchase. Once our brand message was well-positioned in the customer's mind, we slowly started taking female celebrities to showcase our brand's artistry and wide array of designs. As the company evolved to appeal to the pan-Indian customer base, we turned to Bollywood and chose Kareena Kapoor Khan to represent the brand.
Finally, tell us the three things you would tell a potential customer to convince her (or him) to invest in gold/diamond jewellery from Malabar Gold & Diamonds.
Firstly, for every purchase made, we offer cost product services for a lifetime as part of our strong customer-oriented approach. When you buy something from us, we make sure that it stays with you as a keepsake forever. Secondly, at Malabar Gold & Diamonds, there is something for everyone. We have a strong team of top designers from different countries working with us to create unique artistic designs in our jewellery collection. Keeping in mind our range of multicultural customers, we bring about collections to discern to the taste of everyone. Thirdly, we believe that quality comes first and thus, our aim is to provide genuine and certified products to our esteemed customers. So, each jewellery product is quality certified from the highest authority of certification for judging diamond or metals.

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