Rolexes and Emeralds: Spending Picks up Among India’s Elite

What do Chinese food, emeralds and Germany luxury cars have in common? They characterize spending among India’s richest elite. Purchases among the country’s ultra high net-worth individuals (HNIs) make up 44 percent of their income from 30 percent last year, according to a Kotak Wealth Management report. Still, saving outdoes spending – albeit only slightly. India’s ultra HNIs, who make up the top 0.5 percent of the country based on income, save or invest 51 percent of their income. The remaining money tends to go to charity.

But when it comes to what India’s elite will pay for, tastes in some areas are changing. High-end watches, such as Rolexes and Hublots, have outpaced jewelry. And when it comes to jewelry, while traditional gold remains popular, precious stones like emeralds are also achieving popularity. Chinese food remains the most popular cuisine among India’s richest along with Italian, which is as beloved among the elite as home-grown Indian cuisine. These affinities will likely become a more prominent fixture in India’s economy, as the number of ultra HNIs is expected to grow by over 190 percent from 117,000 people to around 343,000 by 2019.


— Jacob Passy