All that glitters is sold

This week’s piece is about gold ornaments, albeit one that will not bring up even once the single biggest source of gold known to human history: Bappi Lahiri.

In these days of fluctuating stock market situation and fragile banking sector, one of the questions that begs an answer is: which is the most reliable and remunerative investment option?  I would immediately go with cocaine, except the fact that I don’t want myself to be spending time with Amar Singh and Suresh Kalmadi.

Anyway, many of us smart persons overcome this ticklish investment issue by being in jobs that provide us money just to survive the present, with no chance for any surplus that we have to bother investing somewhere.

But for the unlucky among you who have the money to save and spend, the obvious bet these days is gold, by which we mean cadmium.  Because, as far as we know, gold jewels are deemed valuable and pure only if it is full of cadmium.

Some of you may be wondering what this cadmium is. Well, cadmium is a unique metal that when it fuses with gold, due to a strong chemical reaction, its spelling becomes kadmium or kadium.  But jewellers don’t bother to use even this wrong spelling, instead preferring a further diluted KDM, and actually end up using a ‘916 KDM’ on jewels, with ‘916’ apparently being the distance in kilometre from its original spelling.

The other thing about cadmium, which is used to solder gold jewels, is that it releases harmful, often life-threatening, toxic fumes when melted.  So a quick test to figure out whether pure cadmium has been used in your jewels or not will be to check whether the goldsmith died while making it.  In other words, if you are keen on buying pure jewels —- please write this down —- you should never buy them from a jeweller who is alive.

Another important aspect to take into account when it comes to gold jewellery is the ‘wastage’ (sedharam) charge.  It is precisely calculated as a percentage of the gold that is not in the ornament you are buying.

Allow us to explain further. When a jeweller forges raw gold into some jewellery, a small percentage of the metal is apparently lost in the process.  Such losses occur in almost every manufacturing process.   But almost none pass this on to the eventual buyer or consumer.

Imagine what will happen if we newspaper people insist on passing on the losses we incur in newsprint wastage while printing? Quite simple. The newspaper industry will lose its seven remaining readers.

But if jewellers do charge the losses on the head of the customers, it’s for a good reason: Most of the gold ornament buyers are —- follow me closely here — morons.

No, don’t get all het up. I didn’t mean you. But if you still protest, well, I may have to bring up the even more damning: ‘making charges’ (seikooli).  The jeweller, when he sells an ornament, bills you for its ‘making’. The same jeweller when he buys back the same ornament from you pays only for the gold, studiously subtracting the ‘making charges’ that you paid him. Bloody hell, it seems a bigger daytime scam than the 2G and CWG ones put together.  Yet, you insist on knowing why the heck did I call ornament-buyers morons.  No doubt gold prices are sky-rocketing.

In terms of weight, gold is commonly weighed in grams and sovereigns, but in kilos and tonnes in gold-intensive regions like a politician’s house or, ok, I’ll not bring his name here.

And the thing to look for in gold, in terms of both quality and purity, is karat, which is an unfortunate term considering the fact that it immediately gives room for many silly jokes and cheesy puns. Example 1: What’s the most scientific way to check how pure is Karat? Ans: Ask Brinda.  Example 2:  What do you call a bright gold? Ans: Prakash Karat. And the final one: What is the technical term for 24-Karats: A Politburo.

There is a significant difference between karat and carat, unless you are an American, in which case you will spell these two words, and also possibly carrot, the same way.

Anyway, while karat is about purity of gold, carat refers to the weight of gemstones like diamond.  It’s all confusing for an average male. That’s why when he sees gold and diamond jewellery, his mind immediately longs for: The Beers.