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Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Indian Jeweler Becomes Billionaire as Gold Price Surges
By Netty Ismail, Zohair Siraj & Swansy Afonso -
Jan 21, 2013 7:40 PM ET
T.S. Kalyanaraman is beloved by his customers and
detested by his rivals for bringing transparency to jewelry sales in
India, where haggling is the norm.
Aishwarya Rai, Bollywood actress
and Kalyan Jewellers' national brand ambassador, poses for a promotional
material. Source: Kalyan Jewellers via Bloomberg
T.S.Kalyanaraman, chairman and
managing director of Kalyan Jewellers, poses for a photograph in his
office in Thrissur, Kerala, India
He opened a shop in the
southern Indian state of Kerala in 1993 and taught customers how to test
the purity of their gold to expose cheating craftsmen. He was also the
first jeweler in town to attach price tags to his gold and gem
collection, angering competitors who accused him of ruining the trade.
Two decades later, the 65-year-old has become a billionaire as a 12-year rally in gold prices
fails to damp demand in India, the world’s largest consumer of the
precious metal. He owns 44 stores in India and plans to open 36 more by
March 2014, including five in the Middle East.
profit, more turnover; that is what we believe in,” Kalyanaraman,
chairman of Kalyan Jewellers, said in a phone interview from Kerala. “Be
as transparent as you can in your trade. The big thing in life is