Gold burns a hole in the pocket

KUALA LUMPUR – Manager M. Devi wanted to buy a gold bracelet for her friend who was getting married. She walked into a jeweller’s shop but her jaw dropped when she saw a rubber band-thin bracelet priced at RM2,800 (S$800).

The 57-year-old decided it would be better to just give her friend a cash packet.

The spiralling price of gold in recent weeks has made many people turn away from buying jewellery. It is worse now because this is an auspicious time for weddings for both Indians and Chinese.

Culturally, Malaysians – especially Malays and Indians – buy gold for their weddings, birthdays and newborns.

For South Indians, the month of Chithirai, which began on April 15, is the season of weddings.

The Chinese, too, prefer to hold weddings after Cheng Beng, which was on April 4.

Checks around Jalan Masjid India gold shops in the city centre showed that more people were browsing rather than actually buying.

Ms Devi said it is customary for Indians to give gold jewellery to close friends for weddings and to newborns, but she said she would not do so from now on.

Ms Tanalakshmi Sukumaran, however, is smiling. She had been buying gold whenever she had money, and she felt the investment is paying off.

The 36-year-old Bahasa Melayu teacher from Sungai Buloh said that, with the price of gold rising, it is a guaranteed investment.

“Buy gold when you can, for you will never regret it. I came to buy a diamond ring for my birthday today, but I have always been one to buy gold whenever I could afford it.

“Gold prices always go up. Yes, I am buying less now, but when we have financial trouble, we can always resell it,” said Ms Tanalakshmi, who had come to the shop with her mother, Madam Kanagessary Muniandy, 64.

Her aunt, Madam Parameswary Arumugam, 64, a retiree, said she had come to the gold shop to exchange her thali kodi (wedding chain) of 36 years.

“I am selling my old thali kodi and buying a new one. Gold is also a sentimental item for us to have when we get married. The thali is crucial to the wedding. As gold prices have increased, I decided it was a good time to get a new gold chain,” said Mdm Parameswary.

Civil servant Fauzi Pilus, 44, meanwhile, was shocked at the prices when he went to buy gold for his bride.

“I was surprised at how high the prices are. I could only afford the basics, such as a ring and a chain.

“Luckily for me, my wife-to-be is very understanding, but I still had to buy some items to ‘save face’ in front of her family members.

“Even if I were to pay in instalments, I have to think about the future and wonder if I am paying more than necessary and if gold is the right investment for me,” said Mr Fauzi.

Systems officer Selvarani Loganathan, 42, who is preparing for her brother’s engagement and wedding in June and October, said she had to settle for fewer gold items as her budget remained the same.

“We set aside RM16,000 (S$4,500) for jewellery, but since prices have shot up, we had to hold off on our plans to buy the thali as of now.

“When I got married in 2020, the price of gold was RM160 (S$45) per gram. Now, the price has doubled. I regret not having invested earlier.

“Also, we cannot buy the thali alone – which may come up to RM3,200 (S$900) – but have to buy other chains as well. That does not include the workmanship, which can run to hundreds of ringgit,” said Ms Selvarani. THE STAR/ ASIA NEWS NETWORK


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