New Delhi: Raksha Bandhan denotes a promise of protection forever from a brother to a sister - so might as well seal it with a life-long investment like a silver, gold or diamond rakhi. Ahead of the festival, these are being readily bought despite their expensive price tag.
If a regular rakhi costs anything between Rs.2 and Rs.150, a thread with a silver piece in the middle could cost Rs.200-Rs.1,000, one with a gold motif could cost from Rs.700-Rs.2,000 and a diamond-studded rakhi can be anything between Rs.1,500 and Rs.5,000, according to shopkeepers.
Suhas Aher, senior manager, Sparkle Diamonds, a jewellery brand, says people are more than willing to shell out money in the name of sibling affection.
"We started making diamond rakhis last year. And to our surprise, we have received a massive response this year as compared to 2010. When gold or diamond is added to the thread, these rakhis become more than just a band on the hand - emotionally and also monetarily. They are a good investment," Aher told IANS.
Raksha Bandhan, to be celebrated Saturday, will see girls across the country tie a sacred thread on their brothers' wrists. Traditionally, it used to be just a simple thread, and with years, rakhis started being made with elaborate designs. However, jewellers have gone a step ahead to promote the concept of lifelong investment.
"As we say diamonds are forever - the same way we see the relationship of a brother and sister. Their love, affection, bond is forever and keeping the ideology in mind we created this concept," said Aher.
Since gold touched a record high of Rs.26,000 per 10 grams Tuesday, how does one manage to pursuade a customer to buy a rakhi for keeps?
"In a particular piece, 34 mg to 1 gram of diamond is used. The good part of this is, that the same rakhi can be converted into a pendant whenever the customer wants later in life," he said Aher, whose company is selling 24 different designs of diamond-studded rakhis.
Nandhini Navin, business development executive of online portal caratlane.com, says the market for such rakhis is niche.
"We had launched in 2007 and since then we have been promoting rakhis made of precious metals. We make sure they are not imitations as we have a niche customer base, with mostly NRIs," Navin told IANS.
"This year we have specially designed seven pieces. Lakshmi gold coin rakhi made in 22 carat gold, Lakshmi flower rakhi which has been made using 24 carat gold, heart of ruby rakhi, purnima pearl rakhi, elegant emerald rakhi, yellow sapphire and diamond rakhi. In each piece, we have used around 150-550 mg gold so that the cost does not shoot up," she explained.
Even local jewellers here have begun dealing in rakhis in precious metals.
"We have been making rakhis in gold, silver for quite a few years. But this year, the demand is much more. We have tried to be a little more innovative with our designing, and incorporated gem stones like ruby and emerald also this year. However, the red thread (mauli) has always been an important part of a rakhi, and will always be," Vipin Kumar, the owner of a jewellery shop in Lajpat Nagar, told IANS.
"The stones work as an add on in terms of money value and also to beautify the product. It makes it more appealing," he added.
Justifying the investment sense behind these expensive rakhis, Kumar said: "Gold has always been an investment but now in times when the prices are reaching sky high, people are buying small pieces on a regular basis so that they can collect gold and jewellery over the years.
"As we all know, buying gold all at once becomes very difficult for people. So if one buys these small items