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British Asian jewellery demand patterns shift
By Tom Wildhern

LONDON, February 1, 2010 – British Asian jewellery buying patterns are shifting in response to socio-economic trends and the soaring price of gold, and costume jewellery demand is increasing, jewellers say.

Buying patterns are adapting to the requirements of a younger, professional market in which many young British Asians are looking to get onto the housing ladder and become more financially independent from their families, say jewellers on Green Street, east London, a leading hub for British Asian jewellery buying.

Green Street’s almost two dozen jewellers account for some 1 percent of total UK retail jewellery demand, driven by the dynamic economic contribution of the British Asian community and their traditional passion for gold jewellery at weddings and parties.

The soaring price of gold to near record highs has led British Asian buyers to re-focus on their gold jewellery needs, and to complement purchases increasingly with costume jewellery.

“The average transaction value per product has gone up, but the volume of purchases has dropped,” said Jayant Raniga, brand manager of PureJewels.

Vikram Santilal of Jeram Jewellers, who is vice chairman of the Green Street Jewellers’ Association (GSJA), said, “The reason is the metal price.”

Gold prices have surged to near all-time highs, driven by dollar weakness, resurgent investor demand and the yellow metal’s appeal as a safe haven in uncertain times.

Raniga said British Asian customers were now increasingly design-driven, seeking more exclusive and cutting-edge pieces.

“Design is going to be more critical going forward for the British Asian buyer.”

While a typical bride needed the same number of jewellery pieces compared with, say, 20 years ago, there were now more events surrounding the traditional British-Asian wedding celebration, and this had led to more purchases of costume jewels to complement gold pieces.

“More demand has gone to the costume jewellery world,” Raniga said.

Santilal said that British Asian demand for diamond jewellery had grown sharply, and there was a heightened taste for white metal, notably platinum, for bridal wear.

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