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More Koreans Pawning Wedding Rings to Survive

Posted January. 14, 2009 08:06,   


The severe economic slowdown has led to more Koreans pawning their wedding rings on the market.

A 50-something woman brought a cat’s eye ring of seven carats to a free jewelry appraisal event. She said, "Since I don’t have enough money to open a Korean restaurant, I`ve brought this gem left by my mother-in-law.”

Dax Diamond said the number of consumers asking about pawning their jewelry has almost doubled this year. In the belief that more consumers will pawn their gems, the jewelry shop plans to ask jewelry experts to appraise the value of gems and put them up for auction.

Consumers are selling gold products such as rings given to children on their first birthday and gold bars as well as diamonds.

One jeweler in central Seoul said, “Recently, the number of consumers wishing to pawn their gold has exceeded that of those seeking to buy new jewelry on the jewelry street in Jongno (downtown Seoul). The price of pure gold has doubled from two or three years ago. Many people with pure gold want to sell it for profit.”

Eom Gil-cheong, a business professor at Kyonggi University in Seoul, said, “As economic conditions worsen, more and more consumers want to sell idle properties including jewels.”

The economic difficulty has helped change Korea’s wedding culture. Until recently, many bridegrooms gave their brides three or four sets of jewels consisting of rings, earrings and necklaces made of diamonds, pearls and other jewels. Now, more couples are exchanging wedding rings only.

A staff member at a jewelry shop in central Seoul said, “Many couples used to choose 0.5 or 0.7 carat rings, but many now buy 0.3 carat rings. Worse, most couples do not exchange expensive watches any more. No one buys trinket or silver spoons.”

A bride-to-be at a jewelry shop in Seoul`s Jongno district said, “My fiancé has lost a lot of money due to his failed stock investment. Since we have little money, we’ll exchange only 0.3 carat rings.”

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