In Argentina in recession, the sacrifice of family jewels: News – Orange

In an Argentina in recession, with anemic activity, a business flourishes: the sale of the grandfather's watch or the great-grandmother's wedding ring. A liquidation of family jewels that is increasingly necessary to make ends meet.

“When debts suffocate you, affection is put aside,” says Mariana, in a pawn shop in the Once commercial district, who does not want to mention the amount received in exchange for her watch, a gift from her grandfather-father. her father for her graduation.

Mariana, who does not want to give her name, confesses to AFP that, at 63 years old, her retirement as an employee of the judicial administration is no longer enough to cover her expenses, in a context of inflation of 72% since the beginning of the year and 276% in twelve months.

The money from the watch, he explains, will be used to pay “current expenses and various arrears of the mutual health insurance company.”

At noon, at an intersection on Once, the contrast is striking: a shoe store is empty, while the waiting rooms of the jewelry stores are full. “We buy gold,” their signs say, in big gold letters.

– Three times more transactions –

In “El Tasador”, one of the best known, a dozen clients wait in a vaguely Art Deco room.

If the evaluation is conclusive, they will leave “on the spot” (immediately), with the value of their jewelry in cash, promises the store, which in 50 years of business prides itself on guaranteeing “privacy and security” to its customers. -Increasing number of clients.

Currently, El Tasador carries out around 300 transactions daily, three times more than last year.

“Recently there have been a lot of people, I think because of what the country is going through. People who had pieces that perhaps they had not planned to sell, but decided to do so, because they could no longer make ends meet,” Natalia, one of the four experts at the store, who does not give her name, told AFP. “for security reasons”.

“We increased capacity and hours, because people were crowding and we couldn't keep up,” he adds.

This trend is driven by television programs or videos on YouTube, with evocative names – “The value of your dreams” – halfway between reality shows and promotional clips.

But, above all, it is the melting of purchasing power, strangled by chronic inflation and a brutal devaluation of the peso in December, which has pushed some Argentines in recent months to empty their savings hidden “under the mattress,” according to one popular expression. . And now, to liquidate your jewelry.

– A bitter “golden age” –

“The situation is complicated, life in Argentina is very expensive,” complains Daniel, a 56-year-old unemployed accountant, who visits the most modest stores to sell a small silver keychain. He is horrified that they offer him barely more than a metro ticket (60 euro cents).

The peak of resales, “is the end of the month, the time of billing,” says Carlos, manager of a jewelry store, also on condition of anonymity.

“The classic is the wedding ring, but they also bring Victorian jewelry, from the Belle Époque, from grandparents or great-great-grandparents, unique pieces,” says Natalia.

Despite poverty that officially affects 42% of the population, it is not uncommon in Argentina for modest households to own gold jewelry.

“In the 70s, more and more people had access to gold, anyone could wear a ring, men could wear gold cufflinks or tie pins, girls received a gold watch at the age of 15,” recalls the evaluator.

For a long time now we no longer wear this jewelry on the street, for safety reasons. On the other hand, they sell.

“Gold has always been sold, reflects Natalia. What has changed is the 'why'. Before it was to finance a project, a renovation, a car, a party… Today “it's because I can't.” over the months+, +bills have increased+ or +I find myself out of work+”.

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