India's love affair with gold

"No gold, no wedding," is a saying in India, indicating the importance of gold to Indian culture and tradition. Byron Pitts reports on India's obsession with gold.

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Agarwal: And unfortunately, yes, it did happen. And we can't deny that it still happens. But earlier it was out in the open. Now it's shameful for you to do that.

There are 1.2 billion people in India. It's the world's second most populous nation with the sixth largest economy and growing. And it's also a country rich in cultural diversity.

Pitts: About how many languages are spoken in India?

Ajay Mitra: There are 21 official languages and 600 dialects.

Pitts: And gold translates in all those places?

Mitra: There are 21 ways of speaking gold.

Ajay Mitra is the World Gold Council's Managing Director for India and the Middle East. He understands India's obsession with gold both economically and emotionally.

Pitts: For most Americans, gold is nice. But it isn't a necessity for most Americans, but for people here gold is a necessity.

Mitra: Gold is a part of life. You can't not have a family which doesn't own gold. It is an incomplete family. In India, gold is considered honorable. And the more you possess, the higher you are up on the social ladder.

Reverence for gold touches everyone, from the very old to the very young. From the high-end stores in major cities, to the gold-plated jewelry shops in the poorest villages.

Gold's value comes from its rarity. And it's the most malleable metal on earth, making it ideal for jewelry and coins. Everywhere we went people told us Indians love buying gold and hate selling it. Wedding planners Divya Chauhan and Vithika Agarwal say it's especially true for a bride and her jewelry.

Chauhan: They would never touch gold, because that's like-- it's go-- I mean it's--

Agarwal: It's giving a piece of you away.

Chauhan: --piece of you, yeah.

Agarwal: How do you give away something?

Chauhan: Give up something--

Agarwal: --or sell something that was passed on by your grandmother?

Chauhan: And family to you?

Agarwal: For example, what I'm wearing was something my parents took me to the store when I was 15 and said, "Okay, buy something you like." And I'm like, "For what?" Because at 15, I'm not interested in gold. I'm like, "Give me the money, I'll go do something else."

Chauhan: So yeah.

Agarwal: But they're like, "No, for your wedding." I'm like, "I'm only 15. Don't talk to me about wedding." But they said, "You have to get married one day. So I mean it's impossible for me to imagine that, one day, I might have to sell it. But at the same time, I know it's there in case I need it.

Pitts: What is this area?

Gargi Shah: This is Zaveri Bazaar. It's one of the oldest gold markets in India.

Zaveri Bazaar, in Mumbai, has been the hub of India's gold trade for the past hundred and fifty years. We walked through it with Gargi Shah, a precious metals analyst with GFMS. It's the London-based publisher of the annual "Gold Survey," considered the industry's Bible on bullion.