5-day 'Festival of Gold' kicks off in Goan capital

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Panaji, Nov 29 (UNI) The first ever five-day mega 'Festival of Gold-2007', exhibiting a stunning array of hallmarked jewellery besides silverware, kicked off here in this international tourist destination today.

Organised by the state owned Minerals and Metals Trading Corporation (MMTC), the largest importer of gold and silver in the Indian sub-continent, the festival showcasing 50,000 eye-catching pieces including jewellery, gold bars, medallions and silverware, was inaugurated by its CMD Sanjiv Batra.

The exhibition was supported by the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs and the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) and participated by the MMTC's approved jewellers across the country.

Interacting with mediapersons, Mr Batra said the MMTC had plans to set up hallmarking centres across the country soon, including in Jaipur and Kolkata with the Centre making it mandatory for the jewellers to sell only hallmarked items from the year 2008.

The MMTC had already set up such centres in Delhi and Ahmedabad.

With the Centre offering financial assistance, many private companies were likely to set up the BIS-approved hallmarking centres, each requiring at least Rs 1 crore.

With hallmarked jewellery available in India now, many Indians who preferred buying the quality items from Dubai and Singapore earlier, preferred buying the jewellery in India itself, as the MMTC came forward by opening a series of exhibitions, he said.

The MMTC imported almost one third of the world's gold production of 2400 tonne this year as against 715 tonne last year, he said.

India, followed by China, was the largest consumer of gold in the world.

Meanwhile, the MMTC planned to open a Rs 150 crore gold refinery-cum-medallion minting unit in Haryana with demand for medallions on the rise, Director (Marketing) Arvind Goel said.

It would import the raw material from Switzerland, South Africa or Australia and refine the gold before making the medallions with 99.99 per cent purity in India itself instead of importing them directly from these countries as the bankers had been doing.

Exquisite pearl and studded diamond jewellery, dazzling kundan and platinum pieces and delicate silver jewellery besides intricately designed chains, bracelets, rings and bangles in traditional and contemporary designs made by experienced craftsmen across the country were on display, including a collection of diamonds and other precious and semi-precious stones.


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