The wedding season that opens in the first week of April is likely to lose some of its bling.
Jewellers across the country have downed shutters since March 17 and no work is being done. They are protesting 1% excise duty imposed on unbranded jewellery this budget. Earlier, the duty was restricted to the branded segment.
Jewellers, who have threatened indefinite strike if there is no rollback, are hopeful of a positive response from the government. "(But) even if the strike is called off, it will take almost a month to clear the backlog," said Om Prakash Gupta of Jaipur Jewellers House at Karol Bagh in Delhi.
Ninety per cent Indians shop with jewellers owning small or medium businesses. Delhi alone has 20,000 jewellers.
"The strike has affected the traders as well as the consumers," said Vinod Maheshwari, convener of the Dariba Jewellers Association.
Dariba Kalan in Chandni Chowk is the jewellery hub of the Capital.
Business worth Rs 11,000 crore has been lost to the strike across India.
"The government is looking at an annual income of around Rs 100 crore but has already lost more in just 11 days," said Pramod Gupta, the association vice-president.
Gold and silver jewellery is largely handcrafted. Some 1 lakh craftsmen are engaged in the trade in Delhi.
"None of us are working. Some are borrowing. Others are going back to Bengal," said Dinesh Rudra, an artisan.