, , , , , , , , , , , ,

This Diwali, retailers are coming up with innovative ways to sell gold such as the gold-plated playing cards.

Buying gold during Diwali, the festival of lights, has long been considered a symbol of prosperity and good luck in India, but retailers are turning to innovative ways to tap that demand.

Traditional demand for gold jewelry has been declining this year because of high prices. Local gold prices are close to record levels at around 31,700 rupees ($575.21) for 10 grams.

To try to maintain interest, gift options in gold this season include gold-plated playing cards, gold-plated cutlery and a product that looks like a chocolate bar.

“It is a step away from the current predictable gifting scenario or the usual gold jewelry,” said Sundeep Malhotra, chief executive of Homeshop18.com, an online retailer that has launched gold-plated playing cards this season.

Card-playing is another traditional part of the Diwali celebrations. Many Hindus believe that Goddess Parvati gambled with dice with her husband Lord Shiva on the night of Diwali, so a flutter at the card table is viewed as auspicious.

The lowest price for a stack of gold-plated cards is 835 rupees ($15.20.) That’s about half the price of a half-a-gram gold coin, the cheapest option for anybody who wants to buy bullion.

“So far more than 500-plus orders have been placed at our website. And closer to Diwali, we are expecting a surge,” said Mr. Malhotra.

A manufacturer based in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, M.K International, is offering gold-plated cutlery and bowl sets. Mohammed Azeem, the owner of the company, said that he hoped to sell about a dozen during Diwali, at a price of about 12,000 rupees. ($218.)

Others can opt to buy combibars, a product that looks like a chocolate bar made out of a stack of thin gold pieces.

“It’s a high-priced product for the elite customer. Demand for this has been very good and we are almost sold out,” said Rahul Gupta, chief executive officer of P.P Jewellers, one of the country’s largest jewelry retail chains.

He said they imported a limited number of pieces from overseas especially for Diwali. Each bar costs about $3,000.

The average consumer who may find it tough to buy either gold or a gold-plated product might yet find some sparkle in a bejeweled computer memory stick fashioned out of artificial gems and gold.

Moser Baer, a leading manufacturer of CDs and DVDs, has launched a special edition with images of the god and goddess Ganpati and Lakshmi embossed on them. Price: 420 rupees ($7.60).

“The look and feel is that of real gold. It has a chain, though it is not gold,” said Abhinav Kanchan, a company spokesman.  “Otherwise it will become very costly. The idea is to keep the affordability in mind.”