For her wedding last November, Prakriti Nayar, 29, decided to ditch the traditional gold jewellery her mother had kept ready for her, and instead completed her ensemble with elaborate costume jewellery that matched perfectly with her beige and magenta lehenga.
"I could never have got the same designs and colours with gold, which is monochrome. Unlike some years ago, when people would shy away from imitation jewellery at occasions such as weddings, today, it isn't taboo. Most of my friends wore high-end costume jewellery at their weddings," said the Mumbai-based architect.
Fashion stylist Pria Agni said, "Be it the elite or middle class, costume jewellery has found takers across all strata of society. It is more modern, offers the flexibility to be paired with any type of apparel and helps in creating one's own style statement. Moreover, it isn't limiting on design and colours, which you can never get in gold jewellery."
Jahid Osman, managing director, Fashion 365 Retail, which retails and markets the brand Aviraté in India, said, "Costume jewellery has made its entry into serious occasions because it can replicate and substitute almost 95% of traditional jewellery. And the fact that it is made to look exactly like the original, and yet is available for a much lower price, makes it attractive."
The fact that the price of gold has been rising steeply - it is approximately Rs 33,000 for 10 gm - is also adding to costume jewellery's attraction. According to an ASSSOCHAM report, the demand for costume jewellery over the past one year has risen steeply by 85%.
"People now prefer to invest in gold slabs and put them in lockers, while enjoying the charms of costume jewellery," said Jasmine Shah, owner of Just Jewellery, a well-known fashion label that deals in costume jewellery.
"One complete bridal costume jewellery set can come for Rs 25,000-45,000; it would cost over Rs 1.5 lakh in pure gold," Shah said.
Considering that India has traditionally viewed gold as a woman's security and women have had an almost emotional relationship with it, Shah's statement perhaps points to a shift in mindset.
Mansi Choksi, 30, proprietor of designer label Made by M, confirmed: "Women no longer need the security of gold - they're getting increasingly self-reliant with sufficient incomes at their disposal. They're now looking at jewellery as an accessory that can make a statement, not as a savings option for the future. Given the influence of TV and films, where protagonists are increasingly seen wearing costume jewellery, the demand has shot up even further."
She qualified that while costume jewellery is non-gold jewellery - an ensemble of gems and stones and chunky pieces - imitation jewellery imitates gold. "We now no longer look down upon those wearing anything but gold, given that everyone around us is doing the same."
Other costume jewellers club both kinds of jewellery. "The trend of big chunks of pendants and other accessories makes costume jewellery a feasible option because if one was to make these in pure metals, it would cost over Rs 1 crore. So the best way is imitation that provides the same look at affordable prices," Agni said.
"At the workplace too, fashion jewellery had found acceptance among young women who are looking for ornaments that are independent of any dress code," Osman said.
As costume jewellery catches the fancy of Indian consumers, there are several new brands emerging in the segment. Established brands such as Gili and D'Damas, say reports, have also ventured into costume jewellery.