|(From above) Shoppers at the Anjali Jewellers showroom at 11.30 pm on Sunday; a set of jewellery from Tanishq; Locket Chatterjee shows off jewellery at the Guinea Emporium.
Pictures by Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya and Rashbehari Das
Shoppers this Sunday outdid themselves, leave alone their neighbours! It was a serious shopping day dominated by serious shoppers.
Dhanteras is when people pick up a precious thing or two, for themselves and for home.
With most jewellery stores recording “an increase of 20 to 30 per cent” sales over Dhanteras 2004, the jewellery industry couldn’t have asked for a bigger dhamaka.
Defying rising gold prices and the shadow cast by the terror attack in Delhi, Calcuttans stepped out in style ' and numbers.
“There was no time to breathe till 2 am,” said Ashish Mundhra of Bhatter’s on Russell Street. Likewise for the employees of MP Jewellers who “left the showroom once for a minute and then couldn’t get back in for hours”!
“We have recorded a growth of 28 per cent as compared to last year’s Dhanteras,” said Anargha Choudhury, director, Anjali Jewellers.
The sale of silver utensils shot up by 20 per cent at Bhatter’s as did the jewellery sale at PC Chandra.
For those who could still keep count, estimated footfall had crossed the 1,500 mark at Anjali and MPJewellers witnessed at least 450 groups of buyers in each of its five Calcutta stores.
The clientele varied as much as the budgets. “We observed two main categories of buyers. One who spend within Rs 5,000 and the other group that buys pieces costing Rs 15,000 to Rs 20,000,” added Anargha.
A source at PC Chandra said last year’s budget of Rs 20,000 has “easily moved up” to Rs 50,000.
“Since Dhanteras isn’t a festival of gift exchange, consumers don’t mind spending a lumpsum on themselves,” he added.
Besides higher budgets, the customer bases have also grown. Apart from this, Dhanteras ’05 also saw a varied product interest. There wasn’t any one item that stole the show.
If Bhatter’s sold a great number of silver idols of Ganesha and Lakshmi, fancy dry fruit boxes, trays and glasses, Nemichand Bamalwa & Sons witnessed high sales of diamond jewellery sets.
These diamond sets were set in gold and the designs had a modern and artistic touch. “Despite such high prices, it was a great surprise to see people picking up gold and spending Rs 50,000 for these sets,” observed Bachhraj Bamalwa from Nemichand.
“With prices of silver being the same as last year, at Rs 11,800 per kg, buyers preferred traditional ware, as opposed to funky silver candle stands and jewels,” said Mundhra of Bhatter’s.
The PC Chandra group noticed a growing trend in chooris and kadas whereas Tanishq saw a spurt in gold coin sales.
“We stock them in 5 gm, 8 gm and 10 gm, and also have 22 karat and 26 karat ones. Hence, our coin variety attracts a huge number of buyers on Dhanteras,” said Dwaipayan Sen of Tanishq.
With so many jewellery brands vying for consumer attention and space, the Bollywood connection is at its peak.
Anjali has bejewelled dreams on Amitabh Bachchan for Eklavya and the Gol Park store is still selling the jadau set that Saif Ali Khan’s mother (Surinder Kaur) was wearing in the Parineeta climax.
With Soha’s and Jackie’s Antarmahal neckpieces grabbing eyeballs, “the hard work has finally paid off”, felt Anargha of Anjali.
Tanishq is still counting on Rani Mukherjee’s jewels from Paheli and is eyeing another “possible filmi tie-up”.