MUMBAI, India, August 21, 2010 - Zaveri Bazaar is home to a vast array of jewellers selling 22-kt yellow gold jewellery, silverware and gemstones.
A reporter braved the heavy monsoon rains on a visit this week to several of the small jewellery stores packed into the narrow lanes of the bazaar in South Mumbai.
Hallmarked 22-kt gold bangles and chains are widely available. Shop assistants will quote a price after weighing items on scales and multiplying the weight by the latest gold price. Tourists can haggle for a discount.
This week, at one store at Zaveri Bazaar a 3.6-gramme 22-kt gold chain cost 8,000 Rupees (about US $172) after a modest discount. A 4-gramme 22-kt gold chain coated in rhodium was discounted to 7,700 Rupees.
At Minar Gems, tourists may choose from a range of gemstones on display, including rubies from India and yellow sapphires. This week, a 4.5-ct ruby was available for 4,750 Rupees. It was attractively presented on a cushion in a small box.
At Vrajlal Karsandas Jewellers, a tiny store, small items of 22-kt gold jewellery were available to suit every pocket, with designs such as a horse's head, letters of the alphabet, a heart or Hindu god Ganesh.
Silver items are for sale at Chandrakant Bhimji Zaveri & Sons, including silver coins bearing the image of Ganesh for around 800 Rupees each.
At another store nearby, a man sat repairing necklaces. He offered a pair of necklaces made out of copper with a coloured stone inlay for just 200 Rupees.
The gold jewellery stores were quiet during this visit as the late monsoon period was not auspicious for weddings, jewellers at the bazaar said.
"Demand for weddings is likely to pick up in late September. This is a quieter time," one jeweller said as the rain poured down heavily outside and local residents scuttled along the alleyways under umbrellas.
The soaring gold price has led some customers to cut back the weight of their gold jewellery purchases, jewellers said.
Some jewellers buy used gold and diamond jewellery at competitive prices.FOREIGN TOURISTS
Tourists were not abundant on this visit, probably due to the heavy monsoon rains, above normal for this time of year, although local jewellers said there are a number of visitors from the Gulf countries visiting in this period, escaping the scorching heat back home.
"Some of the Arab visitors find the monsoon rather refreshing!" one jeweller said.
Western tourists tend to visit more often in December, often arriving on guided tours, and wander from shop to shop haggling with the sales assistants.
Eateries are dotted among the jewellers' shops. Sometimes a jeweller will offer a customer a cup of coffee.
The jewellers of the Zaveri Bazaar are a hospitable crowd, willing to chat informally about the state of the gold market and the Indian wedding seasons.
A jeweller at Karsandas Lakhman Jhaveri said he believes that now is an exciting time for Indian jewellers because they have a competitive advantage over the European sector.
"Setting a diamond can cost 15 Rupees in India, but 1.5 euros in Europe. India has the latest technologies and strong design skills. This is a great opportunity for us," he said.
The visit to Zaveri Bazaar coincided with the India International Jewellery Show (IIJS), located across the Sea Link at the NSE Complex, where senior industry officials said India was a primary source of jewellery for markets across the world.
(1 US $ = 46.6 Indian Rupees)