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Maitreyee Handique | December 12, 2003

Jewellery is big business. And branded jewellery even more so. Industry sources peg the total jewellery market at Rs 50,000 crore (Rs 500 billion), growing at the rate of 30 per cent.

"Of this, the Rs 1,500-crore (Rs 15 billion) branded jewellery market is the fastest growing," says an official at the retail consultancy, KSA Technopak.

And it's not just the big branded players like Tanishq, Inter Gold, Gilli, Carbon and Oyzter Bay that are eager to capture a slice of the market.

It's the local jewellers and regional players that are increasingly looking at launching their own brands, expanding into new markets, adopting new retail formats and hiring jewellery designers to improve their product range.

In the past two years, a handful of jewellers from Jaipur, Kolkata and Punjab have set up shops in Delhi.

From Jaipur, Surana and Dwarka's have moved into the city while Kolkata-based J K G Jewellers and M B Sons Jewellers have set up their operations in the capital too. Besides, Talwars, Gujrawallahs and Sunderlal,  from Punjab, have set up shop in the city.

Even the Delhi-based jewellery companies are opening more showrooms in the city. P P Jewellers, for instance, has already opened three stores and proposes to open four more in Delhi in the next two years. Dwarka's has similar expansion plans.

"The consumer's purchasing power has improved and they want more contemporary designs. We plan to open six franchisee stores soon in other cities as well," says Ashok Goyal, director at Dwarka's.

Industry sources say that Delhi is the highest consumer of jewellery in value terms. Little surprise then that jewellers who operated out of Chandi Chowk and Sadar Bazaar have moved to Karol Bagh and south Delhi to reach consumers with higher disposal incomes.

"There are at least one lakh jewellery stores in Delhi. About 100 jewellers have migrated from Chandni Chowk to south Delhi in the past 10 years," says P P Jewellers' chairman, Kamal Gupta.

Besides moving into posh locations, the jewellers are also focusing on branded jewellery. Apart from brands like Kasmia, launched by Mehrasons (Ashwin Mehra) and Enchante (from the C L Mehra group), Khanna Jewellers too launched its own brand called Amaris this year.

Says Hazoorilal's Sandeep Narang, "We plan to launch our own brand soon.  It's the demand of the market  --  people want brands these days."

However, one of the reasons behind indigenous brand launches could be the desire to get ready for the foreign brands that could flood the market in 2005.

To woo the consumer further, the local players are now setting aside promotional budgets to entice the brand and quality conscious consumers looking for products backed by hallmark and guarantee certifications.

Freebies and loyalty clubs are the order of the day. These could range from chauffeur-driven car service to free airline tickets in lieu of a certain spend.

Hazoorilal & Sons which set aside a budget of Rs 1 crore (Rs 10 million) for promotion last year, floated a scheme that offers free return tickets to London against purchase of solitaires.

Nathumal Jewellers, on the other hand, offers free counselling on birthstones and "surprise" gifts against purchases, if you are a member of its Zodiac Club.

Lalsons Jewellers, which is also planning to set up a new store in south Delhi, has similarly launched a "Lalsons Gold Licence", a card that entitles its loyal customers to avail of certain discounts.

Local brands are also tying up with fashion houses to appeal to a wider, discerning  audience. Hazoorilal has done at least four shows with Manav Gangwani while Khanna Jewellers recently participated in a jewellery show with fashion house Satya Paul.

Dwarka's which, in the past, has done seven fashion shows in India and abroad to showcase its jewellery, plans to rope in Raghuvendra Rathore for its show in February next year.

Sums up Ashok Jain of Swarn Gems Pvt Ltd: "Just like darzis disappeared once the ready-to-wear garments market matured, smaller jewellery  players will close shop and the fittest will survive."

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