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Flashy Indian brides struggle with high gold prices

NEW DELHI, November 22, 2009 (AFP) - For Indian brides buying jewellery, the bigger the better is the general rule, but record gold prices during this year's wedding season are forcing many to compromise.

India is the world's biggest consumer of gold, so the rise of local prices to records above 1,000 dollars an ounce is keenly felt here -- and nowhere more so than in the jewellery shops, an obligatory stop before any ceremony.

While few women are prepared to trade down on the size of their purchases, some are turning to new designs that retain the bulk and glitz but have reduced content of the precious metal.

Leading gold retailers in New Delhi and Mumbai say they are flooded with requests by clients for cheaper necklaces, rings, earrings, bangles or armbands.

"Clients come, select the design and tell us to make it with less gold," a store manager at Mehrasons, a leading gold shop in New Delhi, told AFP, asking not to be named because he was not authorised to speak to the media.

Gold has cultural and religious significance for Indians -- considered auspicious and a sign of wealth and prosperity.

Traditionally, daughters from the majority Hindu population are given gold ornaments

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