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Argentines liquidate ‘grandmother’s jewels’ in the odyssey to make ends meet

Argentines liquidate ‘grandmother’s jewels’ in the odyssey to make ends meet

It’s noon in the busy commercial heart of Buenos Aires and not a customer yet entered the shoe store; However, in the neighboring businesses of gold purchase they line up to settle ‘grandmother’s jewels’ as a last letter to face the crisis.

“Affections are left aside when debts cover you,” Mariana explains to AFP that she exchanged the watch that her grandfather had given her father when he graduated for cash.

At 63 years old, her retirement as a judicial employee is not enough to cover basic expenses, eaten away by an inflation of almost 300% year-on-year.

The money he received for the watch, a sum that he preferred not to reveal as well as his last name, will be used to coverr “expense debts (housing expenses) and various late payments for prepaid (medicine).

Mariana’s story is that of hundreds who come every day to El Tasador, one of the main jewelry buying and selling houses in Buenos Aires, located in the heart of Buenos Aires, where posters abound. “buy gold”.

In its art deco-style room, about ten clients wait to sell. “There have been a lot of people lately, I think because of what is happening in the country, people who perhaps had pieces that they were not planning to sell and decide to do so because they can’t make ends meet.“Natalia, one of the four appraisers of the house, tells AFP.

An appraiser examines a gold ring in a jewelry buying and selling business in Buenos Aires | Juan Mabromata / AFP

In this place alone, about 300 operations are carried out daily, triple what they did until last year.

“Starting in January, the number of people coming to our salon began to increase. “We have expanded capacity and hours because we cannot cope”says Natalia, who protects her last name. “For security”.

On television channels there are at least five appraisal shows sponsored by the main jewelry stores, part of the marketing of the sector where there is strong competition.

Empty mattress syndrome

As the economic adjustment emptied their pockets, Argentines began liquidating ‘mattress dollars’as it popularly refers to the foreign currency savings that they hoard in their homes, a classic in this country accustomed to living with high inflation and distrustful of traditional banking.

Emptying the mattress, they turn to the jewelry box in the midst of a strong economic recession, plummeting consumption, thousands of layoffs and rate increases in essential services.

Daniel, a 56-year-old unemployed public accountant, enters several stores to appraise a silver keychain, but he becomes disenchanted, as soon as they offer him what it costs, a subway ticket. “The situation is difficult, life in Argentina “It’s very expensive,” says.

“It is a constant flow of clients, all to sell, no one buys a ring,” says Carlos, the manager of a small jewelry store. “They bring in anything to be appraised, especially at the end of the month, when the bills arrive.”. The most common thing is the sale of small gold pieces.

Some posters of gold buying businesses in Buenos Aires|  image by Juan Mabromata / AFP
Some posters of gold buying businesses in Buenos Aires| image by Juan Mabromata / AFP

“The classic is the alliance (wedding ring), but they also bring Victorian jewelry, from the ‘belle époque’ that comes from grandparents and great-great-grandparents, unique pieces,” says Natalia, gemologist and expert in the art of weighing carats.

Customers from all social classes come to his premises, next to the busy Once railway terminal. In Argentina, and despite the fact that almost half of the population is poor, it is not uncommon for even humble families to treasure some gold jewelry.

“In the 1970s people could access gold, anyone could have a ring, men wore gold cufflinks and tie bars, women were given gold watches when they turned 15, it was very accessible”highlights the appraiser.

But the use of these pieces has long ceased to be common for safety reasons. That, added to the economic constraints, reinforces the will to sell.

“Gold has always been sold, what has changed is the purpose for which it is sold”Natalia remarked. “Before it was to renovate a house, buy a car, throw a party and today it is because ‘I can’t make ends meet’, ‘my services have increased’ or ‘I lost my job’.”

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Source: Gestion

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