For as long as one can remember, gold has been treasured as a valuable metal. It denotes wealth, happiness, love and optimism. It is in keeping with this thinking that gold is highly valued in South Asia. Parents start saving to purchase gold as soon as their daughter is born, so that they can gift it to her in bridal trousseau. But with the rapidly rising prices of gold, this age-old custom is increasingly difficult to maintain.
In Pakistan, the wedding season is highly anticipated by the local gold jewellers. But with the current price for one tola (12.5 grammes) gold soaring as high as Rs62,000, many local jewellers are complaining about the low sales. Even though the global market has seen a brief relief in the rise of gold prices during the past few days, local jewellers say that this hasn’t changed buying trends as gold rates are so steep.
While talking to The Express Tribune, Kamran, the owner of Mahfooz Jewellers stated that compared to 2010, sales were very sluggish this year because of high gold prices which has led to a decreased interest in the metal. Kamran said that his middle-class clientele has become victim to the increased prices, causing major losses especially during the wedding season. “Now people bring us their heirlooms, to either redesign or polish them and give the piece a new look because they just can’t afford to buy new pieces,” he said.
Motiwala Jewellers in Liberty Market also claimed that sales were low despite the wedding season being in full bloom. He said that this year has proven unlucky for gold jewellers as their businesses have seen a massive slump since January.
While shopping for jewellery, Zainab, a customer, stated that gold is out of the ordinary man’s reach. She said that she had discarded the idea of buying any gold jewellery when she heard about the sky-rocketing rates. “A small three to four grammes (g) ring costs upto Rs30,000; who can afford that sort of luxury these days?” she said.
Zafar Sons Jewellers, which has been in business for the past 15 years, faces the same dilemma. Ali, the store owner, said that buyers were now opting for smaller sets weighing two to three gramme, whereas previously the same social strata could afford five to seven gramme sets. “These days, people are opting for silver or gold plated jewellery for bridal sets” said Ali.
Shehnaz, a bride-to-be, confirmed Ali’s statement revealing that she intended to buy gold plated jewellery for her bridal set, set with semi-precious stones. “It seems utterly unnecessary to indulge in gold at the current prices” she added, while explaining her intentions to strike off gold from her wedding list.
Taneez, a store dealing in pure silver jewellery, has been in Lahore since 2004. Junaid Amir, the manager for Taneez’s Lahore branch, said that people are purchasing bridal sets in silver. He said that people buy silver sets which are gold plated and set with precious and semi-precious stones. An average six to seven gramme set in silver can cost up to Rs65,000 at Taneez, which is almost the price of one tola of gold. Amir also stressed that the current uncertain political situation affected the economy adversely and has decreased consumer buying power.
But even in these trying times Mohammad Sadiq of Motiwala Jewellers claimed that the price increase hadn’t affected his clientele. “People are ordering 10 gramme sets for bridal jewellery, sales are affected only when price fluctuation is immense in a short period.”
Published in The Express Tribune, September 9th, 2011.