Mumbai: Despite the gloom caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, Mumbai’s jewellery fraternity was pleased as plum on Friday, as serpentine queues of masked customers formed since Friday morning, waiting patiently outside the shops and showrooms to make their traditional and auspicious gold purchase on Dhanteras. Also Read - Dhanteras: Gold Price Today at Rs 52,620 per 10gm, Silver Rises to Rs 62,700 a kg

The narrow lanes and bylanes of the country’s main jewellery hubs at Zaveri Bazar and Opera House, besides big and small showrooms in Dadar, Bandra, Santacruz, Vile Parle, Juhu, Andheri, Kandivali, Borivali, Mulund, Ghatkopar, Matunga, Powai and other parts of the city were teeming with crowds, maintaining the mandatory physical distancing. Also Read - Diwali 2020: Here is How You Can Redo Your Home Artfully For The Festivities

Even the shop owners were present to receive and welcome them, attired in full festive finery, with safety arrangements for hand sanitisers, regular spraying inside-outside the shopping areas, sanitising all the contact points like counters, chairs etc. Also Read - Dhanteras 2020 Gold Buying Muhurat: Why do we Buy Gold And Utensils on First Day of Diwali Festivities

Coming out in full public glare after several months, even gold seemed to have acquired an extra sheen with ornaments, coins and guineas offering a visual delight to the covetous customers.

“Belying our expectations, there has been a tremendous response this year, notwithstanding the gold rates which are nearly 35 per cent higher than Dhanteras 2019,” a relieved Nitin Khandelwal, former president of the All India Gem and Jewellery Domestic Council (GJC), told IANS.

Khandelwal said the public response since the Dhanteras ‘muhurat’ at around midnight on Thursday has brought the zing back in the jewellery business after a gap of over nine months, ever since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I can safely say that the volumes are lower by 15 per cent in 2020, but in value terms, we have achieved par with 2019 owing to the high rates of gold, though the exact figures will come only by next week,” Khandelwal said.

Mumbai Jewellers Federation (MJF) president Rakesh Shetty grinned from ear-to-ear as he gathered the response from his members on the Dhanteras sales.

“Our members are largely reporting a good show this year beyond their imagination considering the nine months of pandemic and the lockdown which is yet to be lifted fully,” Shetty told IANS.

Shetty and Khandelwal said the pickup was more in ornaments and coins with gold guineas not moving much, and attributed it to the “savings made by the people” during the lockdown.

The president of the India Bullion and Jewellers Association (IBJA), Mumbai, Kumar Jain, was both harried and happy – seeing the crowds waiting outside his decades old showroom Umedmal Tilokchand Zaveri – signalling deliverance from doom after nine months.

“People had sacrificed their vacations, weekend outings, dinners, picnics, shopping sprees, the lost summer wedding season etc., which resulted in savings despite salary cuts. They are now splurging it on gold with hopes of a better future, preparing for the winter wedding days and the upcoming summer 2021 marriage season,” Jain told IANS.

“With full gold sets also preferred now, for Mumbai alone, I expect sales worth over Rs 750 crore this Dhanteras, compared to around Rs 500 crore last year, despite the high prices,” Jain said.

Priyanka K.G., a housewife, who hesitatingly went to a showroom in Dahisar for the first time in nine months, confessed that though she wanted to buy more for her daughter, “I managed to afford a pair of earrings worth Rs 27,000”.

“The high prices have deterred many middle-class people from making big purchases this year,” rued a Borivali jeweller, S.K. Verlekar, while a customer haggled over the final price of a gold chain just before shutter down.