By David Brough
MUMBAI – Crowds surged through the Zaveri Bazaar on a recent Saturday afternoon, as business bustled in the wholesale and retail outlets of the Mumbai jewellery district.
India is the world’s number 2 gold consumer, with a deep cultural affinity for 22-carat gold jewellery, which can be seen as a store of value and, in some respects, as an alternative currency to the rupee.
The overwhelming consensus of opinion during the visit to Zaveri Bazaar, was that the outlook for sales in the Diwali and wedding seasons in India, was robust.
A reporter visited Zaveri Bazaar, a cluster of gold, silver and costume jewellery outlets in south Mumbai after an hour-long drive across India’s business capital from the IIJS Premiere trade show in the Nesco complex.
The shopping zone was so packed with cars, motorbikes and people, weaving in all directions, that crossing the streets required a high degree of alertness and attention.
The Zaveri Bazaar comprises what appears to be mainly wholesale businesses in silver and so-called “imitation jewellery”, as well as shops where retail customers can trade gold and buy diamond, gold and silver jewellery.
The busiest establishment during this visit, was Marvel Silver, which offered sterling silver jewellery in the latest designs imported from countries such as Turkey, targeting visiting Indian wholesalers from across the vast country.
“Business is flying here, with a strong Diwali ahead,” Nilesh Jain, a partner with Marvel Silver, told Jewellery Outlook.
Further down the street, wholesalers were packing boxes of fashion or “imitation jewellery” for distribution across India ahead of the Diwali and wedding seasons.
“We are very busy,” said Ram Ahir of Lucky Fashion Imitation Jewellery. “Business is looking good for Diwali.”
Along the way, business at a retail shop offering lightweight gold jewellery to low-income local residents, appeared quiet.
The high gold price in rupees may be acting as a deterrent to demand, the shop manager, who asked not to be identified, said.
He added that his customers mainly tended to buy gold jewellery as a long-term investment, due to its appeal as a store of value.
The reporter’s final stop was at Bherumal Shamandas Jewellers, a retail shop where brisk sales and enquiries were under way in gold and diamond jewellery.
“Demand for the wedding season is just beginning. We expect good seasons ahead,” said shop manager Laxman Mirchandani.
He added that some customers sold their gold jewellery for a variety of reasons, from giving financial support to their children, to paying for private health care.