S. Ganesh is into jewellery making for more than a decade now. Nearly 15 workers from Agra and Kerala work at his work shed here, making gold chains and jimikkis . Festival season usually starts two months before Deepavali with heavy flow of orders. This year, with just 20 days to go for the festival, there is hardly any sign of a demand, he says. “Last month, I paid wages to the workers from my personal funds. On many days, the goldsmiths remain idle and we are getting just 10 per cent or 20 per cent of the jobs that we used to get,” he says.
High price of gold and restrictions by the Government on gold import have crippled the industry during the last two months. Hundreds of goldsmiths in the district face a similar situation like Ganesh this year. Coimbatore is one of the major centres in the country for manufacture of gold jewellery and workers from other States too work in this sector here. However, one segment that may not have a sparking festival season this year in the district is the jewellery making units. “The total business is in bad shape,” adds D.R. Raghunath, president of the Tamilnadu Jewellers’ Federation. Gold import will not be easy and just a week ago it has shown signs of revival in New Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata.
The gold that is available in the market comes from recycling of old jewellery. There is work for just 10 days or so a month for the goldsmiths. But, we cannot close the units. Many who want essential jewellery for occasions such as wedding make last minute purchase. There is hope that the situation will revive, says B. Muthuvenkatraman, president of the Coimbatore Jewellery Manufacturers’ Association.
Festival purchases are yet to gain momentum. But, with high gold prices several customers are selling the jewellery with them. Those who have pledged the jewellery are taking it back and selling it. There seems to be more selling than purchase, he says.
Earlier, if a customer received Rs. 10,000 as festival bonus, he or she would be able to buy a small piece of jewellery. Purchases are down because consumers need to shell out more to buy even one sovereign of gold now and the purchasing capacity has also reduced because of inflation, say Mr. Muthuvenkatraman and Mr. Ganesh.