Quite clearly, the average educated Indian is flushed with much more money than ever before. Stuffing the bucks in lockers, bank accounts and even mattresses may be an option but more and more people are into binge buying - investing in assets that are more valuable than just hard cash.
Here are some buys which are considered to be better than money in the bank.
Antiques and furniture
The market is peaking. Fur niture from havelis, dating to the times of the Raj, are fetching unheardof prices. Even carved doors from Gujarat are hot.
Displayed in stores like Trafford, Contemporary Arts and Crafts, Just Arts Etc, an old rocking chair can cost upwards of Rs 10,000, four-poster beds Rs 60,000 and antique sculpture upwards of Rs 50 lakh.
Globally, investments in antiques and period furniture have kept pace with inflation. This trend has picked up in India of late. Manohar Khatri, director of Bandra's Just Arts Etc - which deals in restored period furniture, antiques, artifacts and curios - cites the example of a client who bought a period dining table and eight chairs for Rs 5 lakh, 20 years ago. Today the , client is being offered Rs 25 lakh for the set.
The art deco jewellery of Anita Delga wife of do, Maharaja Jagatjit Singh of Kapurthala, went under Christie's hammer for £627,500.
Of course, it may not be possible for most of us to own antique art deco jewellery, but gold jewellery has always been a traditionally preferred investment.
Says Kanti Solanki of Sangam Chain, Dhanji Street, "More than its ornamental value, gold is bought as an investment. Gold jewellery has survived many economic collapses, worldwide. After all, there aren't many objects which appreciate even after use. It is also not too susceptible to fluctuating stocks and shares or the currency markets. So, it does not lose its value."
Traditionally, pure gold jewellery is considered the soundest investment due to their resale value. But now antique kundan and polki, diamonds, temple, jadau and enamelled jewellery besides jewellery from , sources in erstwhile royal families, are considered great investments, more for their aesthetic appeal than for the value of the yellow metal.
In a recent inter view, master painter Akbar Padamsee remarked that there was a time when Raza priced one of his painting at Rs 300 and at Husain Rs 200, and yet many felt that art was overpriced. Today Indian art is , a hot investment not just in India but for NRIs too. Husain, Padamsee, Ram Kumar, Kishen Khanna,Tyeb Mehta, Manjit Bawa and Anjolie Ela Menon command incalculable prices.
Like jewellery art appreciates and is a longterm stable investment. Gallery owner Priyashi Patodia says, " is such a big busi Art ness today that it is even contributing to the country's Gross Domestic Product. "
She claims that this is the best time to invest in art - especially by young artists promoted by premier galleries. Sculpture is becoming huge business. But photographs, graphic prints, serigraphs and etchings still have to create a bigger buzz in India.
Of late, paintings in bulk or portfo lios have become hot. These portfolios, created by galleries, include works by senior as well as younger artists.
It may seem criminal to buy a bottle of wine for Rs 50,000. But ask an expert and he'll tell you that it's good business sense, provided you don't polish the stuff down in an instant.
Internationally, fine wines are big business globally with niche investors and banks investing in luxury wines.
Certain wines command cushy prices if their year of manufacture was during an especially salubrious season. The years 2005, 2003, 2000 and 1996,for instance, have been particularly good for Bordeaux.
Red wine, rose and champagnes are better options for investment. But a case of 2001 Château d'Yquem available today for £ 4,000 (Rs 3.2 lakh approximately) is predicted to go up between £20,000 and £30,000 (Rs 16-24 lakhs) within 10 years.
Next year could also be a good time to buy vintage cham pagnes like Dom Pérignon, Krug and Salon.
Rugs and carpets
Antique rugs, Per sian and Iranian carpets and kilms, Shatoosh and Pashmina shawls, Banarasi brocade sarees, are all considered good investments. A dealer of antique rugs says, "People these days have an eye for beauty. But sadly the crafts manship and intricate work of the olden times is difficult to replicate."
A dealer in antique Shatoosh shawls pegs each shawl at a couple of lakhs. The shawls are made from wool of Tibetan antelope. Any trade is banned now. He says, "These shawls are not available anymore due to the ban, raising the price of the ones in circulation."
He says due to trade restrictions on original Pashmina shawls,too, are super expensive. He equates these to gold. Because of their longevity they acquire the status of heirlooms.