A scarcity of gold and high prices are pushing Indians to look to silver or diamond jewellery as alternative gifts this festive season, adding to the gloom in the gold trade after government measures to restrict imports.
Indians are the biggest buyers of gold in the world and many believe that buying and giving it on holy days brings good fortune. Friday marks Dhanteras, a huge festival associated with Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, and another festival, Diwali, falls on Sunday.
“So far, we have sold just two gold rings today. It’s a far cry from what it was during Dhanteras last year,” said executive Sanjay Kumar at Chawla Jewellers in New Delhi. Saleswomen in bright traditional sarees sat idle.
Outside the shop, a big banner trumpets a 1,000 rupee ($16) discount on gold market prices and a discount of up to 50 percent on diamond jewellery.