The on-going strike by jewellers in the country has taken the shine away from weddings in the city this season. The anxious brides-to-be are either putting their jewellery shopping on hold or, as a last resort, using old and imitation jewellery.
While some people have managed to persuade traders to sell jewellery that they store in places other than the closed showrooms, others are loaning the family heirlooms to their children till the strike is called off. Those with no other option are planning to use imitation jewellery.
“We have old family ties with one of the jewellers. He said he can’t risk annoying the trading community by opening his shop and asked us to visit his home. We were able to buy some jewellery at his place,” said Ankit Mehra, whose wedding is scheduled for Wednesday next week.
Ashutosh Rastogi, whose engagement ceremony is scheduled in the last week of the month, said he plans to gift his mother’s diamond ring to his fiancée in case the strike is not called off by then.
Gold traders are protesting the government’s decision to re-impose 1% excise duty and making PAN mandatory for any transaction of Rs. 2 lakh and more. The shops have been closed since March 2.
In Gurgaon, the niche Gold Souk Mall, which has 75 jewellery shops, wears a deserted look. An occasional customer who drops by in the hope of finding a shop open is promptly turned away by the guards. About 18,000-20,000 customers visit the Gold Souk Mall a day, buying about 15 kg jewellery on an average. The Mall authorities do a business of nearly Rs. 4.5 crore per day.
“Though some customers have managed to buy jewellery through contacts with the traders, the strike has affected the business and wedding plans on a large scale,” said Ashish Gupta, vice chairman, Gold Souk Group, terming the government decision a dampener for the already-stressed industry.
Apart from loaning their gold to their children and using personal rapport with jewellers, some parents are also buying gold bonds floated by the government this wedding season as a gifting option. These bonds are aimed at checking gold purchases.
“While we were demanding that the government withdraw the decision to make PAN mandatory on purchases of Rs. 2 lakh and more, the government made our lives more difficult by re-introducing the 1% excise duty,” said Ashish Goel of Goel Jewellers. He is also a member of the All India Gems and Jewellery Trade Federation (GJF), one of the apex bodies representing jewellers across the country, which is part of the strike.