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Younger consumers in Kerala shift towards lightweight and lower-carat jewellery

The latest report from the World Gold Council, the market development organisation for the gold industry, says that in response to the higher prices, 18K diamond jewellery saw some improvement, as did jewellery with coloured gemstones.

S Abdul Nassar, treasurer of the All Kerala Gold and Silver Merchants Association, noted that while gold jewellery demand in Kerala remains robust, customers are now shifting to 18K gold to offset the price increase.

“Price difference for a sovereign of gold in 18K and 22K comes to Rs 9,000. If they purchased one sovereign of gold last year on Akshaya Tritiya, this time many opted for one sovereign of gold in 18K. It is hallmarked, ensuring its value,” he said.

For weddings, the consumption is skewed towards the traditional yellow gold in 22K, and for all other purposes, the customers are seen more adventurous and experimenting, he pointed out.

Nassar also mentioned that preferences among youngsters are changing, with a growing penchant for rose, black, and white gold compared to yellow gold.“Coloured gold is used to hold stones or diamonds, and it is trendy and stylish. Big designers use 14K for bracelets, watch straps, and luxury accessories, which is in vogue in European countries,” he said.

Surendran K, the general secretary of the association, noted that youngsters have a flair for trendy, lightweight jewellery, which they wear as a style statement rather than traditional attire.

“Since 18K gold is hard, it has the potential to be turned into beautiful designs at the lowest weight. You can even make a chain from one or two grams of 18K, and it will be light and trendy. This triggered the shift to lower-carat and lightweight jewellery in the first place. The increase in gold prices added to the shift,” he said.

The sturdiness of lower-carat gold means that it can be worn every day, Surendran pointed out. However, Ramesh Kalyanaraman, executive director of Kalyan Jewellers, disagreed, stating that the surging gold price is not the primary reason for the shift. He explained that some states, like West Bengal, already had a culture of using 18K gold, which has grown over time. “People use 18K to basically encase precious stones like diamonds. Pink and rose gold and platinum are preferred by youngsters as the jewellery stands out,” he said.

He said the shift to lower-carat gold jewellery is not very visible in Kerala. “Earlier, people came to the store with a specific volume in mind. Now they come with a budget. Consumers say they need jewellery worth Rs 10 lakh or 20 lakh instead of specifying 50 sovereigns or 70 sovereigns,” Kalyanaraman said. He pointed out that people love it when gold prices surge because everyone already has some gold in their possession.

“When the price increases, their asset value goes up. After Covid, even youngsters are buying gold because they understand that gold provides liquidity and was the only asset that showed strength when the whole world was locked down,” he said.He further explained that youngsters have realised that income and asset stability is not assured in times like the pandemic lockdown, and now they want to hold commodities that provide some assurance.

Nassar pointed out that, on average, 500 to 600kg of gold jewellery is sold per day in Kerala, and it increases to 1,100-1,200 kg on Akshaya Tritiya days.

Kerala has historically contributed to the national gold demand, typically accounting for a 25-28% share of the annual consumption of 600-800 tonnes. A 2016 study by the WGC emphasised that the average weight of jewellery worn by an upper-middle-class Kerala bride is 320g, compared to 180g worn by a Gujarati bride.

According to the latest WGC report, demand for gold in India for Q1 2024 was 136.6 tonnes, up by 8% compared to the Q1 demand for 2023, which was 126.3 tonnes. Total jewellery demand in India for Q1 2024 increased by 4%, reaching 95.5 tonnes compared to 91.9 tonnes in Q1 2023. The demand for jewellery rose to Rs 52,750 crore, a 15% increase from Q1 2023, which was Rs 45,890 crore.

Courtesy : The New Indian Express

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