Days of jewellery being considered as a metal of investment, to be worn during weddings is passe. With prominence given to design element, exclusive jewellery aficionados seek out exclusivity that materials such as terracotta provides.
Considering the changing tastes of Indian women, terracotta jewellery in a range of designs and earthy colours besides being cheap seems to have become a staple fashion accessory. It is also considered to be extremely functional and durable while giving that ethnic and contemporary experience.
"Terracotta jewellery will never go out of season. It has more character than silver and gold. Terracotta jewellery cuts across all age-groups. Women in their 50's enjoy wearing it as much as do the college-going girls," says Hema S Subramanyam, who owns an ethnic terracotta jewellery line in Hyderabad.
Derived from the Italian word that literally means cooked or fired earth, terracotta is made from river-bed clay which is dried, kiln-fired and hand painted. It was earlier used for making earthen handicrafts and pots and nowadays jewellery also. The uniqueness lies in the fact that it can be moulded in numerous ways using hands.
Different rough and glazed finishes can be given in terracotta jewellery. They are painted, carved or embedded with stones or beads and embossed with patterns. Unlike gold, silver and other precious metals and stones, terracotta jewellery usually does not burn a hole in the pocket with even bridal jewellery being offered in terracotta material.
New designers bring in new and innovative designs in ethnic style, beautiful bright terracotta fashion jewellery. "Nowadays I have a lot orders for weddings especially from young girls. They look for simple, creative handcrafted jewellery which is customized individually according to their interests.
"Most of my works of art are purely based on the inputs of my artists and some of the traditional designs are inspired by the Nizams of Hyderabad, which are recreated in terracotta with a metallic finish. They are designed in such a way that they compliment ethnic as well as western wear," says M S Vasanthi Meattle, owner of Delhi-based Maatikaar.
It is been a decade long journey for Bindhu Mathai who was awarded by Ministry of Textiles a National Award Certificate in 1997 for her craftsmanship and contribution to the development of terracotta jewellery. She had conceived Aakaar, based in Bangalore, for hand- crafted terracotta jewellery in early 1995. "It has been a venture to provide an opportunity for womenfolk to earn their livelihood from a creative vocation.
Our products include chokers, short and long necklaces, danglers, bracelets, earrings etc. "Besides jewellery we also make masks, murals and statuettes. I began by making figures inspired by Kathakali, Yakshagana, Theyyam, nature etc. Nowadays I also incorporate gold in the jewellery to make it apt for weddings and such formal occasions," says Mathai.