Silver in India comes next to gold in the jewellery buying preference of Indians. With the current downward spiraling of gold prices, silver is the new-found love of Indians. The shiny metal has been able to hold its price and even seen appreciations in a time when gold has been continuously losing shine for the past 2-3 years.
Silver in various forms is popular in the Indian culture. The most significant role is played by it in weddings and birthdays. Other ceremonies which see silver being used as gifts and puja item are naming ceremony of babies, engagement ceremonies and pujas during Indian festivals like Diwali and Holi.
India is a huge exporter of silver jewellery and silverware. Huge demand for silver is seen from countries like the United States and those in the Middle East. Silver export companies in India are trying to expand to newer pastures like markets in China, Russia and Australia. In terms of silver jewellery, India is the third largest fabricator of silver jewellery in the world. The popularity of silver in India also stems from the fact that it is cheap in comparison to gold and other precious metals like platinum. This makes it easier for people to buy silver for themselves as well as for gifting purposes.
Silver jewellery in India is currently popular not just due to its lower prices but also because several designer stores and jewellery designers have entered this space. These new-age designers are giving a new and trendy look to silver jewellery and gifting articles and have clearly created substantial demand for the white metal. Surveys done in this regard have revealed that youngsters especially have started appreciating silver better than gold because the current jewellery designs are so much more chic and aptly proceed as compared to the same designs made out of gold or platinum.
Data compiled by the precious metals consultancy Smaulgld.com showed India’s total silver import at 5,819 tonnes during the January-September period. On annualised basis, however, total silver import in 2015 is estimated at 7,759 tonnes - the highest ever India has imported in any calendar year so far, and a rise of 10 per cent from the previous year. During 2014 (calendar year), the total import of silver was recorded at 7,083 tonnes.
“As the trend shows from the volume of import between January and September, silver import in India will set a new record this year,” said Mohit Kamboj, president of India Bullion and Jewellers Association (IBJA), on the sidelines of World Silver Council inauguration here.
After a staggering 19.31 per cent decline in 2014, silver prices fell nearly eight per cent in 2015. This means, the downward cycle in commodities has made silver affordable for consumers with a price decline of over 26 per cent in the past two years to $14.32 an oz now from the level of $19.47 on January 1, 2014.
Similar price decline was seen in local currency as well. Silver price in Zaveri Bazaar here is quoted at Rs 34,200 a kg now, a decline of 22 per cent from the level of Rs 43,800 a kg on January 1, 2014.
“Show me the money! Show me the money! Show me the money!” - Famous lines from a famous Hollywood movie “Jerry Maguire”. These words exemplify the world we live in today. It is a world of instant messaging, super computers and ATMs (Any Time Money!). The only thing of significance in today’s world is MONEY. Values and relationship seem to have paled into insignificance-- unlike the days of my childhood and the cosy family atmosphere wherein I grew up.
My memory of Bartons as a child is one filled with fun and joy. As a child I loved spending time at Bartons. Those days, there was no Barton Centre- there were just the showroom, workshop and ‘Barton Court’ motel. Interestingly, the chairman of BPL, Mr. TPG Nambiar had his office at Bartons. He was my grandfather’s closest friend and confidant.
Whether It was spending time at the workshop watching the craftsmen magically convert raw silver into something beautiful, or banging away on the typewriter (the hi-tech gadget of that period) or sitting in a room in Barton Court with the TV and the A/c on, and most importantly, a soft drink such as Torino or Thumbs up in hand! Such things might sound trivial for adults, but made any child happy.
What I loved the most about going to Bartons was to watch Grandpa (MS Mehta) and Papa (Bharat Mehta) going about doing their business - and somehow, sowing the seeds of what I wanted to do when I grew up.
Of kings and soldiers
Even to this day, in the midst of compelling Television shows, DVDs and computer games, children still enjoy listening to good old stories. The same way I enjoyed at Bartons - most often true stories of Maharajahs and their luxurious life style, or of Nizams and soldiers.
I was thrilled to know how Bartons unfailingly matched their luxurious standards… For instance, a king would order 24 pure silver dishes weighing 1 Kg each - just for himself, to enjoy his corn with butter or other dainty delicacies! A Nizam would feed hundreds of people on silver dining sets which went with matching cutlery and tapestry! Sometimes, it was about soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the country. Bartons were officially appointed as regimental silversmiths. We even crafted a milestone for the Indian army in silver. This wasn’t just any milestone, it was the one picked up in Pakistan just a few miles before Lahore. I could go on and on…. perhaps we could write a book on these true stories!
Speaking of greatness, … the other day, I was watching a television interview with the great West Indian batsman Vivian Richards. The interviewer was asking him about the greatness of Sachin Tendulkar. He pointed out that Sachin Tendulkar started some of the greatest sportsmen of this century, Lance Armstrong, Pete Sampras and Michael Schumacher had not even begun their careers. It is the year 2011 and the great Sachin Tendulkar continues to perform and excel at the highest level. He goes on to say that true greatness lies in the ability to perform at the highest level over a long period. I am confident that Bartons can draw a parallel and be proud of it!
Bartons has witnessed a sea change since it was established in 1861. We have been photographers, hoteliers, a leasing firm and other businesses. However, silverware, our core business has always stayed intact and shall continue to do so. Our vision for Bartons is to expand the diamond business as well. Recently, we ventured into real estate development. We also wish to establish Bartons sales outlets in Bangalore and across India.
It is great to observe India’s phenomenal economic progress in the 21st Century. In the years ahead, I look forward to seeing India become a super power and Bartons a household name!