Savar’s jewelry industry loses its luster

The people living in Savar Union in Bhakurta, on the outskirts of Dhaka, bolster their income by meticulously crafting copper and brass ornaments every day.

As such, the area has become home to a jewelry industry where locals can make a living by melting metals, threading strings, and collecting patterns for various ornaments.

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In Bhakurta, jewelry making is considered a household routine as not only men but also women and children work side by side.

Hundreds of dedicated workshops have sprung up in the narrow alleys of the village in recent years, making it a hotbed for Bangladesh custom jewelry makers.

These ornaments are often purchased by wholesalers who sell them to supermarkets and other stores in Dhaka and various towns in the district.

For this jewelry making business, the village is known as “Gohona Gram” or jewelry village.

Local factories manufacture all kinds of women’s jewelry – from hair ornaments, earrings, nose rings and necklaces to bracelets, bangles, anklets and lockets.

Craftsman Mohammad Rafique, who has been in the industry for two decades, told the Daily Star that stores in Dhaka apply the finishing touches, such as polishing and painting, to their adornments, but some jewelry is finished in copper. and brass are sold in Bhakurta. .

“Also, if you place an order providing a design, the desired silver jewelry can be made from that location,” he said.

“Our jewelry not only meets domestic demand, but also goes to Italy, the Middle East and India,” Rafique added.

By talking to local artisans, we learned that the industry had developed gradually.

The price of gold began to rise a few years after Bangladesh’s independence, but the wages of artisans have remained unchanged.

Some of them returned to their villages in the area and started making silver jewelry, but after the market for silver products slowed down, artisans began to look for alternative metals as it was the only trade. that they knew.

They then discovered that copper was an affordable and effective substitute because they could use gold and silver jewelry designs to create a new market.

“Normally the raw materials come from India and we collect them in Old Dhaka. The metals are recovered from scrapped ships,” said Imran Hossain, general manager of Madina Metal Store in Bhakurta.

While visiting a market in Bhakurta last month, this correspondent met Riffat Hasan, general manager of D Style Factory jewelry store in Dhaka.

“We have been collecting some of our products from this market for several years and uploading many of these models to our official site,” Hasan said.

“Currently, we are receiving more orders because winter is wedding season,” she added.

The local jewelry industry has brought much needed relief to hundreds of people in the area who claim that working from dusk until dawn in normal occupations does not provide them with sufficient income.

“It is too difficult to support our family of four with the income of my husband, who works as a car driver,” said Sakhina Begum.

“But I’m really grateful that one of my neighbors taught me how to make necklaces, bracelets, earrings and nose rings,” she added.

However, Sakhina said their luck seems to have run out due to rising commodity prices.

“Previously we could earn around 70 Tk with each collar, but now we only earn 30 Tk,” she said.

Deen-E-Islam, a craftsman based in Bhakurta, claimed that the rising costs of raw materials and the falling profits of semi-or complete products have been a double whammy.

“The price of some raw materials is increasing day by day, but the price of finished products is the same or falling,” Islam said.

“We have to pay about three times what we used to pay, because the factory prepayment went from Tk 1 lakh to Tk 3 lakh while the store rent went from Tk 1,500 to Tk 3,500. Tk, “he added.

When contacted, Mr D. Nazimuddin, chairman of the Cooperative Association of Gold, Silver and Imitation Bhakurta Traders, said the promising local industry was currently faltering due to rising costs of raw materials.

In addition, the cost of liquefied petroleum gas has increased, as have the costs of other related materials required for melting the ornaments.

Some are also opting for the traditional method of using kerosene, the price of which has also increased by around Tk 15 per liter.

As such, many traders have been forced to take out high interest loans from non-governmental organizations in order to stay in business, he added.

When asked why the prices of raw materials have increased, Nazimuddin said that since they cannot directly import the materials from China, they have been forced to rely on Indian traders and pay taxes. high.

“If the government makes the import process easier and cuts costs, the industry will prosper quickly,” he added.

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