Once regarded as old-fashioned, gold is gaining a following among the young, writes Sushma Veera
DIAMONDS are a girl’s best friend but gold is making a comeback.
“It used to be considered old-fashioned. But there is a change in buying trends,” says Ng Yih Pyng, president of the Federation of Goldsmiths And Jewellers Associations of Malaysia (FGJAM).
In line with this, he says jewellers are focusing on trendy jewellery for the younger generation.
“Young girls do not like to wear big, chunky jewellery. They prefer something that is tiny and sleek, or a single bold piece that they can flaunt at functions,” he says.
Jewellery design is volatile. What’s popular today can become obsolete in a few years and then make a comeback as the latest fashion.
“Of course, there is a worldwide trend but again, it all depends on how fast it gets to our shores. Jewellers often participate in exhibitions to keep up with trends and to develop new designs.”
Ng, who has been in the industry for 21 years, says jewellery designers cannot stray too far from what consumers want.
For example, Malay customers still prefer chunky gold pieces and items with diamonds. The Chinese go for simple designs with diamonds and most Indians like jewellery with enamel.
“Design is subjective. It is not easy to pin-point exactly what customers prefer.
“Designers are offering lighter weight designs, which require excellent craftsmanship,” says Ng.
Malaysia exports gold jewellery to many countries and is recognised for its quality gold.
“Last year, we exported more than RM5 billion worth of gold jewellery and the figure has been increasing over the years. Recently, officials from the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade) asked if we could increase export as growth is strong, and it helps the nation’s economy,” he says. “Many people who buy jewellery abroad don’t realise that these are made in Malaysia.”
What is unique about gold jewellery produced here is the craftsmanship.
“We are a multi-cultural nation with a diversity of traditions. Our designers are inspired by that,” he says. “Our jewellers are all-rounders compared to those in other nations.”
Ng explains: “In Europe, one company produces the wire, while another produces the chain. Here, we do everything from scratch and this gives us flexibility in designs and better quality control. We can also customise jewellery according to preference.”
With the price of gold sky-rocketing, Ng says more people are looking at it as investment. “They buy gold not only for gifts, but also for investment as the value of gold is expected to increase by the day. Even banks are selling gold wafers.”
The Malaysia Premium Pavilion was launched in conjunction with the Malaysia International Jewellery Fair which ends on Sunday. It has 28 booths.
The event is a milestone in the history of jewellery exhibitions.
“Malaysia has some of the best gold craftsmen in Southeast Asia and we are showcasing some unique Malaysia-made jewellery collections,” says Ng.
“From elegant, classic designs to unique collections, there is a variety of exquisite Malaysian-made jewellery. It is also a great opportunity for newcomers to display their products and to network with other exhibitors. It is like a stepping stone to the international market.”