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The old gold versus the new

Now the wedding season is winding down in India, it might be a good time to address one of the newest battles between mothers and daughters.

Now that the wedding season is winding down in India, it might be a good time to address one of the newest battles that have raged between mothers and daughters. Over gold, that is. Today's bride does not particularly care for old gold. Or yellow gold. Or what mothers and grandmothers and generations before them used to swoon over and collect diligently only to stash away in the safety deposit box. Brought out on special occasions, mostly weddings, the bulky, heavy ornaments rarely saw the light of day the rest of the time.

Today's plucky women prefer white gold. (Gold can have a variety of colours depending on what alloy it is mixed with - ranging from an almost bronze sheen to rose.) Every weekend for the past three months, I received reports from my aunts and mother. They would attend a wedding and then share notes about what is "in" this season. Gemstones certainly figured - emeralds, rubies, the works. But this year, the family has come to the conclusion that yellow gold was not as prominently featured as it has been in the past. My elderly aunts didn't take kindly to this. They are less impressed by a bride dripping in diamonds than in gold. But I was. To me, it sounded like a small victory over generations that made you wear so much of that stuff that at the end of the evening, your arms, head and neck ached from the additional weight you had to carry around.

Admittedly, yellow gold contrasts much better with duskier skin, but putting that aside, globalisation and western trends in jewellery-making have certainly influenced what style reaches a woman's earlobes. I've even noticed adverts in posh Indian fashion magazines trying to sell platinum jewellery as the next must-have piece around one's wrist. This points to a trend that jewellers in India have already picked up on. Desperate to attract younger women who would rather purchase an expensive pair of shoes than spend an afternoon browsing a collection that they'd don once a year, a number of companies now offer smaller trinkets in white gold or gold-plated. They are practical and can be worn every day. Best of all, a young professional will not have to break her bank to make an impulse buy. That also signals the shift in the kind of gold this generation prefers.

The reason jewellery is locked away is to avoid robberies and violent confrontation. It is the security factor. Why risk a gold chain snatched and a neck scratched in a crowded metro train when you can be stylish with white gold?

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