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Goldsmiths face competition from machine-made jewellery

Mar '07
AGRA: Goldsmiths of Agra, in Northern India face a threat to their livelihood in face of stiff competition from machine-made ornaments.

Most jewelers manufacture ornaments using machines that are more precise and enhance finest details.

"Our future is bleak because all the work these days is done by machines. We only get that kind of work that the machines are unable to do...we don`t get much work these days because the machines do most of the work. We do not have enough money to set up our own plants, neither do we have enough gold to hire people to work for us besides the expenditure involved in making gold ornaments has also risen," said Singh, a goldsmith.

Jewellery manufacturing on a large scale with help of goldsmiths would involve a lot of time and also lead to wastage, whereas machine-made ornaments are easy to produce.

Manufacturing sector has become organized and even with a set of three workers a complete jewellery set cannot be made.

The work has shifted to mechanized style. Old system has its own limitations for as a worker cannot make all kinds of designs.

Indian Standards Bureau has introduced concept of hallmarked jewellery to ensure that customers do not get duped by merchants who sell low-quality gold.

This has led to customers trusting big jewellers that manufacture ornaments in bulk and have a reputation for selling good-quality ornaments, rather than small-time goldsmiths.

A large number of goldsmiths were put out of their traditional jobs, carried forward through generations, leaving the rest of them with no power to negotiate their salaries.

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