As college students we always had friends who either couldn’t afford gold or did not like it. And since fashion jewellery was everywhere, in the most attractive designs and mostly affordable prices, it was an obvious choice. However, a lot of it caused severe allergic reactions, mostly due to high proportions of nickel used in it. And we hankered for alternatives.
Back home, silver was only stuff for anklets and chains and some rings prescribed by astrologers. Or gifts for new babies or weddings or Diwali. Else, it was something worn by nomads and tribals, and that is not we should aspire to!
Interestingly, being in metropolitans and having some artsy and independent women with very specific tastes around us, we encountered silver jewellery. And for these women, silver being less expensive than gold did not make it less classy. It being a tribal style made it only more desirable, if anything. It would take us a long time from there to now and understanding the complex politics of taste. But we began to admire and love silver, for its affordability, durability, skin friendliness and its tribal wildness.
When some of us, who had been caught by the wind of big cities wore silver back home, in our two tier- three tier cities, our parents either laughes at us, calling us names like – dheemri, banajaran meaning nomadic, but implying much more- a lower class- poverty ridden or street dweller status, or they would tell us to wear gold and not flush their reputation down the drain.
As it happens, for some us, reputations are not built on the metal one wears. And being nomadic or not being rich are not really bad things; quite the contrary. The fascination with silver comes with a fascination with the moon- with the lesser light, which doesn’t lit up the world. It has its
blemishes and many shapes and forms. It doesn’t comply with human ideas of beauty and perfection, and those of us who love the moon, are those who have learnt to redefine the very meaning and perception of beauty, completeness, perfection.
The idea of lack has been drilled into our heads. We are imperfect. Our lives are imperfect. Our bodies, our loves, everything is imperfect. And we keep need to improving, knowing fully well that nothing and no one can be perfect. How do we do that? We keep studying, and have higher pays and greater profits. And keep working our minds and bodies off. Why? So that we can buy and upgrade to newer things. We need things to make us better, to realize our true selves. Such a wonderful formula to achieve a goal which we have been told from start is unachievable. How do we not question- is it not us who give meaning to things? Is it not us who colour things through our perspective and make all these stories? Is it not us who actually determine how perfect or imperfect we are? We conduct our own trials in our own courts by our own rules.
It is strange and interesting. Because the whole idea of selling, the whole market has hinged itself on the idea of need. On the principle of lack. On the logic of having to feel lack and that things are necessary. It is the driving force of consumer culture.
We are fascinated with silver because it reminds us of nomadic people and of the love of beauty in imperfections. It signifies adornment which is about expressing oneself rather than jewellery being a mask for investment or statement of patriarchal wealth. We are fascinated with silver because it heals. It is white, like the moon. And it turns black, like the night. We love silver for the same reason that it is loved loved by the nomadic and the tribals- it bears witness to constant transformation that occurs through interactions with the outside, with air, with nature.