The latest trend: Paper jewellery

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Soaring gold prices, coupled with a craze for being trendy has prompted young women to go in for environment-friendly, cheap paper jewellery.

And the advantages are many. For one, paper jewellery, made from recycled paper with water, is bio-degradable and non-allergic. It is light, durable, sweat resistant and can withstand normal pressure. Also, normal water contact does not damage it, says an entrepreneur.

To make it involves a labour-intensive process, wherein each bead is hand rolled, glued and triple-varnished. Women from disadvantaged backgrounds are usually hired to help with production.

"We use mill made recycled paper, which helps reduce our carbon footprint and helps the environment," Usha Natrajan, managing parter of city-based Mahalakshmi Creations, which is incorporated with 80 entrepreneurs on paper jewellery, told PTI here.

Saying that paper jewellery could be customised in any colour and pattern, which is more economically viable than gold jewellery, she said most of her customers were in the 20-35 age group. "Mostly young girls evince interest in buying the jewellery," she added.

Explaining the method involved in making paper jewellery, Usha said that paper is first manually moulded into beads of different shapes and sizes. Utmost care is taken in bonding, strengthening, hardening, colouring and waterproofing. The paper beads are then adorned with crystals, stones, chatons, kundan, glass beads, polki, semi-precious stones, acrylic beads, and horn beads, she added. She said her company has produced more than 2,000 designs in 40 colours so far .

"Special designs are being developed for changing seasons and moods. The range varies from elaborate and detailed designs to basics," she said. She said that prices for a pair of earrings start at Rs 45.

Usha explained that acceptance of paper jewellery is catching on. "We give options to customers, right from choosing the main design base to the beads. We then fix original Swarovski glass beads, cultured beads and pearls.We do not use chemicals in any process while making the jewellery," she said.

Started in a small way in 2006, Usha's company sold paper jewellery worth Rs 3 lakh in its first year. "After that, there has been a steady growth in sales of 40 percent every year," she added.

Sivaranjani, a college student, said she preferred to wear paper jewellery since there are many designs and it is eco-friendly. "It is cheap," she said.

Dermatologists say no research has yet been conducted on the possible effects of wearing paper jewellery, as it is a new entrant into the market.