Walking down the busy streets of Chandni Chowk, one is often compelled to think about the various businesses that rule the place.
‘What keeps the place so packed up throughout the year?’ might be the question on every passerby’s mind who visits Chandi Chowk and Chawri Bazar, and to find the answer to that question one must walk through the lanes and bylanes of Old Delhi to witness the ongoing business transactions of almost everything which can be bought and sold!
One of the major festivals of India, Diwali calls for enormous amounts of expenses which include shopping for home decors, clothing, food items, jewellery, utensils and other decorative and lighting items such as diyas, candles and candle stands.
Even though myths and tales about Dhanteras have associated its celebrations with dhan (wealth), the original concept of the day was to celebrate health by worshipping ‘Dhanwantari’ - the god of medicine and the provider of good health.
Jewellery has won over the hearts of lots of women and men for ages and during Diwali, the demand for gold jewellery increases with the fables of Dhanteras circulating around, which require people to buy metals as per their financial capabilities in order to add on to their wealth. Jewellery is not merely a source of decorating one’s self but is often used for gifting purposes, as owning gold, silver and precious stones is considered nothing short of gaining a bounty!
Purani Dilli’s jewellery market ‘Kucha Mahajani’ caters to the wholesale jewellery market throughout the country. Chandni Chowk, the centuries-old market area for the Mughals, still holds ground as the hub of wholesale for several products including jewellery.
“Big brands tie up with good karigars, and maintain their standards in quality, while local shops or other showrooms purchase jewellery from wholesale traders who run business with a set of karigars. The high time in the business is during Diwali and the marriage seasons - during March and especially during the winter,” said Chirag Gupta, from Aakriti Abhushan.
“During Diwali, people buy gold and silver coins mostly other than rings and ear tops. To keep up the business during Diwali, we start our work form before Navratri as the retailers start purchasing from that time to stock up their showrooms for the Diwali sale.
Since pundits have spread the word that buying gold is auspicious, people buy gold articles more whereas the merchants dealing in diamonds have to suffer a setback in the business. Gold coins are available from 0.5 gm to 100 gm,” informed Gupta.
What impact will the GST have on the jewellery business? “Excise has been increased by 1 per cent more. But when GST was on its way the government should not have increased the excise duty on us.
This affects the karigars, once during the congress rule, there was a roleback of the jewellers and a 21-day long hartal continued, until the excise was removed. But when Jaitley ji reintroduced the excise duty, a 42 days strike occurred which led a lot of karigars to leave work. Now we have 1 per cent tax and 1 per cent excise duty. GST will affect the jewellers in a very different may due to the variety of articles made by the karigars.”
People are buying more artificial jewellery these days to compensate for the expensive metal while fulfilling their desire of wearing jewellery. While on one hand when the younger generation is rarely drawn towards jewellery, the older generation still believes in retaining wealth through gold and silver.
Jewellers have also said that younger customers aim at buying diamond jewellery more than gold now. One of Old Delhi’s jewellers, Gupta said “People buy artificial jewellery now because of the increase in theft and robbery.
If someone has to travel for hours to reach a wedding and come back at night, they would not risk wearing gold, silver or diamonds, rather they would prefer to fulfil their desire of wearing jewellery and looking good without having the stress of losing it to robbers.”
The art of investing has been cultured for generations, with renewed methods of saving for the future of one’s child’s education or a grand marriage, but the role played by gold is constant.
Even though banks and the government have come up with several saving schemes, the asset value of gold and silver have played an important role in the saving plans of middle class Indians.