Go for gold

Last year, gold took a huge beating. Its prices plunged, going down in history as the third-worst decline since 1975.

But in 2014, the tide started to change and gold prices are inching their way up, restoring its glory as the most sought-after precious metal on the planet. However, prices are still low for those looking to buy the precious metal - people who buy jewellery to squirrel away some savings for a rainy day.

With many looking forward to Akshaya Tritiya, which falls on May 2 this year, jewellery shop owners are a busy lot.

Director of Abiraame Jewellers Ramanathan Palaniappan said: "We usually get almost two or three times the usual crowd on Akshaya Tritiya and this year we are expecting even more. Many people have already paid deposits and confirmed the booking of the gold and diamond ornaments of their choice a few months in advance this year."

Last year's fall in gold prices was a result of big investors shifting their purchases from gold to other riskier assets. This, paired with their overconfidence in the global economic recovery, brought about the substantially large difference in gold price.

However, this proved to be a boon to people who wanted to buy gold jewellery and gold demand shot up as a result.

According to the World Gold Council, there was a 17 per cent increase in gold jewellery demand and 28 per cent increase in the demand for gold bars and coins last year.

While India, known to have the world's largest market for gold, was surpassed by China last year, the majority of the global gold demand, accounting for 53 per cent, still came collectively from the Indian and Chinese markets. But as demand grew, the price also started to make its way up. However, the price increase slowed due to inflation in the US markets and the continuing tension between Russia and Ukraine.

That has resulted in demand for gold keeping a steady pace and an opportunity for people to buy more.

Gold is known as a "safe-haven" metal, because of its ability to retain or appreciate in value over time. In the event of international incidents or conflicts, investors and buyers prefer to bet their money on gold stocks as it ensures that they will not lose their money in the long run. The gold price may take a dip every once in a while, but it is guaranteed to always rise back up just as quickly.

As the spokesperson for Meena Gold Jewellers Janardan Rai explained: "Gold ornaments, bars and coins are always in trend because of the high resale value that gold has. Unlike jewellery made with metals like silver, gold jewellery is easier to exchange for new pieces and it can also be sold easily."

While the appetite for gold is steadily rising, diamonds also seem to be in demand for Akshaya Tritiya this year. More jewellery stores are stocking up on gold ornaments embedded with diamonds and uncut diamonds.

Abiraame Jewellers' star attraction this Akshaya Tritiya is its vintage collection, a series of ornaments designed with natural uncut diamonds, said Mr Palaniappan.

Explaining what uncut diamonds are, he said: "Uncut rough diamonds are crystals with natural sparkle making them perfect for use in jewellery without faceting. Using rough diamonds in jewellery is a major trend in jewellery today. The practice of using raw diamonds dates back to Roman times when they were commonly found in men's rings. It is designed in such a way to enhance the ornament with its sparkling quality. It is considered near equal to the diamond but with its natural quality."

Uncut diamonds are also called polki diamonds in India. Meena Gold Jewellers is showcasing its polki jewellery collection this year, as they are increasingly popular with the younger generation, said Mr Rai.

"We carry Indian handmade designs using real polki diamonds. They are very high in demand among the younger crowd, who prefer gold that is less shiny," he said, adding that kundan jewellery is also in good demand.

"Kundan is similar to polki, but they are not diamonds. They have a white, smoky appearance, and are considered semi-precious stones," he said.

Srichakra Diamond Jewellers, specialising in diamond accessories, is featuring diamonds that are affordable for everyone.

Its director Selvamani Loganathan said: "Our motto is to make diamond jewellery affordable and that everyone should enjoy the pleasure of wearing diamond jewellery. For that we offer jewellery with prices ranging from as low as $65 up to $35,000."

This is Srichakra Diamond Jewellers' first Akshaya Tritiya since it opened its store on March 2 this year. Because of this, the store is having special offers to celebrate this auspicious day.

"We are giving away a 10g silver coin of 999 purity for purchases above $300 and a seven compartment jewellery box along with the silver coin for purchases above $1,000," said Mr Loganathan.

They are not the only ones giving away goodies. Abiraame Jewellers has a special gift for customers buying $500 worth of jewellery, while Mr Rai of Meena Gold Jewellers said it will be giving a good discount on its jewellery.

Also on this list is Joyalukkas, which happens to be celebrating its second anniversary in Singapore. As part of the second anniversary celebrations, customers stand a chance to win a total of 1kg of gold across four weeks and a 32- inch LED TV every day plus a free 2g gold coin with every purchase worth $2,000 of diamond and polki jewellery from April 18 to May 4.

Joyalukkas will be giving away one raffle coupon for purchases worth $100, two for purchase of diamond jewellery of the same value and a gold coin for purchases exceeding $1,000, from May 1 to May 3.

Chairman and managing director for the Joyalukkas Group Joy Alukkas said: "Gold and jewellery is considered the ultimate symbol of wealth and prosperity. It is also believed that purchase of gold and jewellery during Akshaya Tritiya brings home good luck and prosperity.

"Also getting a gift in gold is considered a blessing for prosperity, so we have tailored our Akshaya Tritiya and second anniversary campaign in such a way that the customer gets many opportunities to take home a gift or a reward in gold."

With so many different offers and a wide variety of beautiful gold and diamond jewellery, customers will surely be spoilt for choice this Akshaya Tritiya.

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