Whether it’s seen as an investment, a whimsical buy, a symbol of plenty, or just jewellery to be worn and enjoyed, gold is the evergreen buy, rising prices be damned, finds Bhumika K on Akshaya Tritiya

The glitter of gold is something we Indians will never fail to succumb to. “It’s in our genes,” we can argue. “It’s tradition,” is how we would like to explain. “A great investment,” many may argue. “I love jewellery,” some others may plain admit.

Whatever the reason, and however high up the beanstalk the prices may climb, gold is that comforter we cling on to. It’s that time of the year again when buying gold in considered auspicious. Akshaya Tritiya, which falls today, spins most people into a tizzy. Akshaya, which means “never diminishing” in Sanskrit, marks an auspicious day in the Hindu calendar as well as among Jains. Anything good begun on this day, therefore, never diminishes — so starting new business ventures, buying gold — are all part of that symbolism of the overflowing of goodness in our lives.

Why buy?

While many may wait for an occasion to buy gold, some, like Malini Raghu, a teacher, admit that her gold-buying happens on a whim! “But thank god, I don’t have such whims too often,” she laughs. “If I’m bored of a design I’ve been wearing for some time, I like to change it. Last month, I gave up two of my mom’s gold bangles that were too tight for me and in return got myself a karimani chain, another small one with corals, and a pair of earrings. Then two weeks ago, my mother-in-law exchanged a pair of her bangles that she had got made to order because six months on, she didn’t like the design!”

College goers may have turned to the more fashionable white and pink gold rather than traditional designs in yellow gold, but the fact is, they love their gold too. Eighteen-year-old Pranati S. gushes about the gold her folks bought her this year for that landmark 18th “adult” birthday. “My mum said there was no limit on what I could pick, and I freaked out on a tiny burnt gold amorphous pendant with a thin chain that I could wear to college, a charm bracelet with diamonds, and a pair of more traditional jhumkas, but with fusion Meenakari work, for occasional wear.” Did her folks hint about buying for the future, her wedding? “No way!” she protests at the incredulousness. “By then the design trends would have changed. Why would I buy it now?!”

The love for gold and diamonds seems to start really young these days. Paediatrician Dr. Sridevi says she was never interested in gold till she had a daughter four years ago. “Then suddenly my ‘Indian mother’ instincts took over I guess and I started buying gold for my daughter’s future. I pick traditional time-tested pieces. I don’t see gold as an investment; it’s just something to wear and enjoy.” Her daughter already has a fascination, like any little girl does, for jewellery, she points out. “In fact, she even looks at sequins and says excitedly ‘Diamonds!!’”.

Many may argue that jewellers have turned religious occasions into a great marketing gimmick, playing on people’s sentiments. And it seems to work. People “advance book” jewellery before D-Day to avoid the rush at gold stores; discounts and offers are aplenty. You can book a car or a new house on this day, and in all probability you will be offered a gold coin as a “free gift”.

For many people, gold is a symbolic and sentimental buy.

Anitha Dinkar, a 47-year-old entrepreneur is more of an “occasion” buyer. “I end up buying gold twice a year at least — on Akshaya Tritiya and then during Dhanteras, in the belief that if gold is bought on these days, it will multiply.” She’s kept up this tradition through the last 15 years, whatever the fluctuation in gold prices. She admits, with a hearty laugh, to checking out gold rates in the papers each morning even before she reads headlines! “It’s true that we Indians are sentimental about our jewellery. We tend to ‘collect’ gold, and see it as a piece of security, and investment for the future,” she admits. “Earlier I would buy jewellery for myself. Now it’s more for my daughter and daughter-in-law. If I don’t like the designs I see around these auspicious days, I just buy a gold coin and later get it made into jewellery of my choice.” For this year’s buy she and her sister checked out five of their usual stores for designs and offers before she booked a rubies-and-emerald pendant.

Manasi Ram, a 34-year-old homemaker says she has plans to go with a friend to have the friend’s ears pierced. “My mother, who’s travelling in the U.S.A., called to remind me to pick up something on her behalf for Akshaya Tritiya. “I didn’t really like what I saw in the stores, so instead I bought a symbolic cow-and-calf figurine in silver, which stands for the ever-giving Kamadhenu. I’ll wait for prices to drop after Tritiya and buy myself gold bangles.”