Lower caratage daily wear jewellery has been widely accepted

19 January, 2023

Daily wear/fashion jewellery accounts for 45-50% of the market. Unlike the bridal segment, which is primarily 22-carat, daily wear products cover 22-, 18- and 14-carat. Even so, 22-carat remains dominant with more than 80% of the market, and 18- and 14-carat combined account for a 15-17% share, with both having increased over the last decade.1  14-carat jewellery has only emerged in the last two or three years and, as it stands, only a small number of retailers currently offer this lightweight, relatively low-carat product.

The daily wear category covers a wide range of items, including earrings, rings, chains, mangalsutras, bangles and bracelets, ranging from 5g to 30g. 2 The growth in lower caratages has been driven by three factors: the growing popularity of modern designs; the increase in rupee gold prices, and the growth of studded diamond jewellery. Studded diamond jewellery is predominantly sold in lower caratages (14-carat and 18-carat) for two reasons: first, the studded diamond jewellery is purchased for adornment rather than investment; second, lower carat studded diamond jewellery is typically harder and so lends itself to stone-setting better than softer alloys. It is also easier to make thinner and more delicate designs in harder alloys, which again works better when the designer wants to set stones. 

Gold-plated jewellery growth slowed after an initial euphoria 

Gold-plated jewellery, or gram gold as it is known in India, is a phenomenon that has developed over the last decade, primarily driven by high gold prices. Essentially, it is jewellery with less than 1g of gold. This type of jewellery has resonated with lower-income consumers. Gram gold is available in bridal and daily wear collections. 

Another recent phenomenon has been the introduction of gold-plated silver jewellery, which is becoming increasingly popular among fashion conscious consumers who frequently seek out new designs to match their attire (Focus 2). 

Table 4: Wedding jewellery tastes by region

Bride Bangles Earrings Chains Small Necklaces Large Sets Otders Gross weight in gm
(average upper middle
class consumption)
Uttar Pradesh Bride Kundan Kangan,
Ancia Kangan
Kaan Matti Mangal Sutra Choker Choker Anguthi, Nathn,
Baju Band, Benda
Sindhi Bride Kundan Kangan Vala Mangal Sutra   Diamond Haar Maang Teeka, Nathni,
Bajo do Kado
Maharashtrian Bride Tode, Patli Jhumke Mangalsutra Tushi Chapla Haar,
Laxmi Haar
Aangathi, Haath Pan,
Nath, Baju Band
Gujarati Bride Bangdi, Kundan
Kundan Butti Mangal Sutra Chandan Haar   Nath, Baju Band,
Damani, Pocha
Bengali Bride Plai Bala, Mugh
Bala, Chitra Bala
Jhumkaa   Gola Chik Sita Haar Kamar Chavi, Tikloy,
Kamar Band
Rajasthani Bride Bangdi, Kada,
Rajputi Bangdi
Kundan Butti   Thewa Rani Haar Rakhdi, Haath Phool,
Baju Band, Anguthi
Andhra Bride Kangan, Gajalu Buttalu Sutaru Golusu Kandabaranam Nakshi Haram Aravanki, Nakshi
Vaddanam, Jada
Mangalore Bride Lakshmi Bale,
Coorgi Bale,
Kembina Bale
Jhimki Mangal Sutra,
Mohan Sara
  akki Sara,
Malliga Sara
Bandhi, Odiyanam,
Kemp Ungila
280 g
Tamilian Bride Muthu Valayal,
Lakhsmi Valayal,
Kemu Valayal
Kempu Kal
Mangal Sutra Vella Kal
Lakshmi Haram,
Muthu Haram
Ottiyanam, Nethichutty,
Jadai billai
Kerala Bride Kolkata Bangle,
Machine cut Bangle,
Thoda Bangles
Jhimki Kurumulaka Mala,
Kingini Mala,
Manga Mala
Kasu Mala,
Lakshmi mala,
Mulla Motu
Toe Ring, Minnu,  320

Source: Malabar Gold and Diamonds, Metals Focus, World Gold Council

Focus 2: Gold-plated silver jewellery gains traction

Gold’s usage in India for industrial purposes can be broadly divided into two categories – electronics and other industrial. The former covers the use of gold in electrical contacts and printed circuit boards (PCBs), while the latter includes plating and jari (gold thread).

Looking first at plating, over the last few years the tremendous growth in sales of gold-plated silver jewellery and articles, as well as imitation jewellery (gold-plated brass jewellery), has underpinned the increasing usage of gold potassium cyanide (GPC) in India. 

However, not all of this has benefitted local GPC producers as most fabricators rely on imported material. For instance, in the first seven months of 2022 alone, India imported nearly 750kg of GPC, equivalent to 510kg of gold in fine-weight terms (gold accounts for 68.2% of GPC). To minimise costs, thrifting has emerged even in this segment, with the average thickness of gold coatings steadily declining. For instance, watches with a 5-micron (μm) plating thickness a decade ago are now using plating as thin as 0.1 μm.        

The key barrier to local GPC production is the 15% import duty on gold bullion compared to that on gold compounds, which includes GPC at 11%. I believe that the government should work towards changing this inverted duty structure so that Indian producers can benefit from a level playing field.

Overall, the duty structure needs to be reviewed for industrial players to boost local industrial usage of gold. With the manufacturing of electronics and PCBs likely to rise and with the demand for plating also growing, there is a need to create a differential import duty structure for the industrial segment. In our view, this will help domestic fabricators, potentially opening up export markets and, in turn, help to cushion the negative impact of gold imports on India’s current account deficit.
Ketan Dhruv
Director, Bangalore Refinery


  1. Metals Focus
  2. Mangalsutra is an auspicious thread tied around bride’s neck by groom during wedding.