In the bylanes of Old Delhi near the Red Fort, close to Subhash Park, second-generation gemstone sellers peddle their wares on the streets. Multi-hued stones spread out on waterproof gunny bags are available to customers for as little as ₹25 to thousands of rupees, depending on each stone’s clarity and ratti (weight). They include the coveted precious and semi-precious gems such as sapphire, amethyst, topaz, turquoise, garnets and hessonites, to more ordinary ones. The stones are in demand thanks to their supposed astrological powers. People of different faiths flock to the market in search of a piece of rock with the power to bring them luck, health, happiness and prosperity.
Chandni Chowk’s serpentine streets usually specialise in one particular item — the Kinari Bazaar in ‘borders’ for sarees and other clothing, the Dariba Kalan in silver jewellery, the bangle market near Ballimaran, and many more. The roads around Subhash Park have been given over to wholesale dealers in gemstones. Many of them are today worried about the Chinese plastic imitations flooding the market, which are confusing buyer and seller alike.
Many jewellery stores procure their gemstones from this market. The sellers usually keep a weighing scale handy to measure a gemstone’s weight, or ratti, which is directly linked to its value.
Photos: Kamal Narang