How much of jewellery is actually too much for an Indian bride? Depends on where she is from. For long, we have relied on anecdotal evidence, but now, there is a study to suggest the Kerala bride holds the crown in gold jewellery consumption, reports Banikinkar Pattanayak in New Delhi.
In a first, the World Gold Council (WGC) has collated data from various sources to reveal that the average weight of jewellery of an upper-middle-class Kerala bride is as high as 320 grams (worth around Rs 9 lakh at current prices, even excluding making charges that can vary dramatically). By contrast, the Gujarati bride displays the lowest penchant for gold, adorning herself with 180 grams of jewellery.
In fact, jewellery consumption of brides from the four southern Indian states ranges from 280 grams to 320 grams — much ahead of any other region. No wonder the southern region accounts for 40% of the Indian gold jewellery market, followed by the western (25%), northern (20%) and eastern (15%) regions, Somasundaram PR, managing director (India), WGC, told Fe in an interview earlier this week.
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Although tradition remains the key driver of the bridal fetish for gold across states, factors including the availability of other investment tools also influence jewellery purchases. For instance, some analysts attribute the Gujarati bride’s preference for cash and investment in stocks over gold to their relatively low level of reverence for the precious metal.Around 40-50% of gold jewellery and bars and coins are bought for weddings in India. Although no official data are available for the actual number of weddings in the country, it is believed to be around 8-10 million each year, according to the WGC study. Since around 500 million people are believed to be below the age of 25, the number of weddings will continue to grow in the coming years, driving demand for gold, Somasundaram said.
So long-term prospects remain bright with Indian gold demand expected to average at 850-950 tonnes per annum by 2020, even though demonetisation hit consumption temporarily, as some customers deferred purchases fearing a crackdown on gold holding as well, the WGC has said.
The country’s gold demand is expected to have fallen to a seven-year low of 650-750 tonnes in 2016, although a recovery is expected as early as 2017.