So maybe you got gold jewelry for Valentine’s Day and you think you have accumulated a lot by now; so much that you might even be thinking that you should be taking your treasure chest of broken gold jewelry to some store front thief and trading it in for cash. Who has a treasure chest of gold jewelry anyway? The women of India have the gold.
India is now the largest consumer of gold. In the past 20 years India has emerged as one of the fastest growing economies on earth and the people of India love gold and feel that no possession is more valuable than gold. In America, the dream is to own a home, in India the dream is to hold onto as much gold as you can afford.
For the Indian people gold jewelry is wearable wealth; a sense of financial security. The one event that drives up the demand to have gold and show it off is at an Indian wedding. The event can last for days with music and dancing with traditions that go back centuries. The gold jewelry shows off a sense of wealth and wellbeing.
Unless like western cultures where it is about the bride and groom, in India it is about anything else but the bride and groom. It is more about the pre-arrangement of two families coming together. Half of the jewelry Indians buy each year is for the sole purpose of a wedding. There is an estimated 10 Million weddings that take place each year.
So, not only is the bride’s jewelry displayed, it is an opportunity for all the guests to display their wealth as well. They insist that it is not vanity but something that is so culturally ingrained in them that there is no reasoning for it . Like a dowry, the bride is usually given jewelry by her parents that they started buying when she was born. It is her financial security after she joins her husbands family. The gold she will control throughout the marriage.
With 3/4ths of Indian marriages arranged, the brides gold can also carry a message. The amount of gold she comes into the marriage possessing, she sets the economic standard she is expected to be able to live by. This tradition of families having to give gold is a financial bourdon to some. Dowries were banned in 1961 but there is still an expectation that her family should bring something. Gold.
There are 1.2 Billion people in India making it the world’s second most populated nation and the 6th largest economy and growing. It is also a country rich in cultural diversity. There are 21 official languages and 600 dialects spoken in India today. They all believe in gold and can easily communicate when it comes to gold. The World’s Gold Council for India and the Middle East, understands India’s obsession with gold economically and emotionally.
In America gold is nice to have but not a necessity. In India, it is a part of life. There is not a Family there that doesn’t own some gold. Gold is considered honorable and the more gold you have, the higher you are considered in the social ladder. The reverence for gold touches everyone from the very old to the very young. From the high end stores in major cities to the gold plated jewelry shops in the poorest villages.
Gold’s value comes from it’s rarity and it is the best metal on earth to mold making it ideal to shape into jewelry and coins. Indians love to buy gold and hate selling it. Today India ranks number 1 in terms of possessing the world’s amount of gold in both the consumption of jewelry and gold bars and coins. How can a country so rich appear to be so poor at times?
In recent years, India’s demand for gold comprised 32% of the world’s market. That is 4 times the demand in north America. Almost all of India’s gold is imported. The Indian mines produce less than 1% of the world’s supply. The rising price of gold in the past decade sent Indians to rush to buy more thus driving prices even higher. So, be glad that your love was happy with some flowers and chocolates. That is a lot cheaper than a pile of gold.