Would-be grooms feel the heat as jewelers raise summer prices
In Saudi Arabia, where the purchasing power of the average male is substantially higher than elsewhere, suitors are struggling to deliver that full 24 carat gold diamond solitaire with gold prices on the up.
Prices of gold have continued to rise across the Kingdom because of the summer season.
The summer is considered the perfect time for gold retailers to make a profit, as it is also the wedding season.
For Saudi families, gold is the perfect gift for brides, but they are already complaining that they cannot afford the high prices.
Some Saudi families are finding alternative ways to buy gold without exceeding their budgets.
Some families are purchasing 18 carat gold jewelry instead of 24 carat ones. Others are buying less expensive gifts like iPhones and iPads.
Abdullah Al-Asbali, owner of Al-Asbali jewelry shop, said: “High gold prices have put off many Saudi families. The sales of gold have dropped sharply. It is a big problem buying gold as a wedding gift.”
“Recently we started to stock lightweight sets of gold that cost less to make it more affordable for families of new couples, but they are also considered too pricey,” he said.
Al-Asbali said the bride’s family always insists on buying the most expensive gold set while the groom is always looking for a reasonable price, adding that the girl’s relatives considers gold a safe investment for the future.
However, he added, the cost of gold is increasing in Saudi Arabia since the beginning of 2011 because of political changes in the Middle East.
“As the prices of gold globally are going up, this could be the worst season for marriages in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East. In the Kingdom, we too have inflation and couples could focus on purchasing other gifts than gold,” said Mamdouh Alawi, a seller for a famous gold company in the Middle East.
“As soon as gold prices increased, some couples started buying 18 carat jewelry because they are cheaper.”
He confirmed that along with gold, silver has also increased in global markets.
Suleiman Al-Rouwais, a young Saudi would-be groom who is planning to marry at the end of June, said he was in Dubai last week and found that gold prices there had increased by 50 percent compared to last year.
“Many businessmen in the Kingdom import gold from Dubai which is why they have to sell it at high prices. Recently, I discovered that buying 24 carat gold could cost SR185 for one gram,” he said.
“My fiancée’s family is traditional. They asked me to buy traditional gold sets imported from Dubai, Bahrain and India. Despite that, my wife prefers the new modern gold, which is 18 carats and costs less. However, I am forced to buy traditional gold for a price that I may not be able to afford, which means I will have to borrow money from people.”
Owners of gold and jewelry shops at the main gold souks at Al-Yamama Souk and in shops in Jeddah’s Balad district said the steep rise in gold prices have shocked young people wanting to get married.
“Our sales fell to zero over the last five months because of the high prices,” said Akeel Al-Suwaidan, a gold trader at Al-Yamama.
“One month ago, we were expecting a little increase in gold sales as soon as the wedding season approached. However, we still have not been able to match even 50 percent of last year’s sales.”
By DIANA AL-JASSEM
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