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Sunday, February 17, 2013
Global Gold Jewelry Demand Shows Signs of Life Thanks to India
Gold for jewelry fabrication measured by value saw a 13 percent increase during the fourth quarter of 2012, primarily due to robust demand in India, according to the World Gold Council. It was strongest quarter for global jewelry demand since the first quarter of 2011 and may signal signs of strength after years of sluggish consumer demand.
In 2012, gold demand for jewelry saw a 3 percent rise in terms of value to $102.4 billion, year-over-year, “as consumers continued to allocate greater sums to gold jewelry, despite the 6 percent year-on-year rise in the price,” according to the WGC in its quarterly Gold Demand Trends report for the full year of 2012.
However, don’t open those champagne bottles just yet. In terms of volume, gold jewelry demand fell 3 percent in 2012 to 1,908 tons.
India, the world’s largest gold jewelry market and the world’s largest gold market, had by far the largest increase in gold jewelry demand. By volume the increase was 35 percent to 153 tons and by value it was 37 percent to $8.47 billion, according to Gold Demand Trends, released Thursday.
Gold jewelry, particularly in the economically struggling Western markets, has been a difficult sell since at least 2008 because investor demand caused the price of the precious metal to skyrocket. Outside of India and China, by far the two largest gold jewelry markets (and to a lesser extent the global luxury sector), there is really no indication that gold jewelry’s sluggish performance will change soon in most regions of the world.
Even in China (the world’s second largest gold jewelry market), 2012 was a year where gold jewelry demand was largely flat. In terms of volume the increase was 1 percent to 145.8 tons. In value, demand rose by 3 percent to $8.03 billion. India too had several serious economic issues during the first half of the year (including high import duties, market turmoil and a local spike in the price of gold) that resulted in a reduction for gold jewelry. The second half of the year saw a “strong revival” in gold jewelry leading to the exceptionally strong fourth quarter.
The WGC report also noted “a further erosion of tonnage in the Western markets,” again caused by the high price of the precious metal. Italy, which has one of the largest gold jewelry manufacturing centers in the world, saw demand by tonnage decline by 15 percent in 2012.
In the U.S., jewelry demand in 2012 fell 6 percent by volume to 108.4 tons and fell 2 percent by value to $2.21 billion.
All of the Far Eastern markets, not including China and India (which now account for 56 percent of the gold being used for jewelry), saw weaker demand in 2012, according to Gold Demand Trends.
Egypt surprisingly saw a 35 percent increase in gold jewelry demand by volume but the WGC noted that it was still far below levels prior to the 2011 political uprising. Demand in Russia (the fourth largest gold jewelry market) increased for the second straight year. The market expanded in volume by 7 percent in 2012 to 81.9 tons.
In addition to jewelry and various investment vehicles, gold is used by the world’s central banks and for a number of technological purposes (such as electronics and dentistry). Overall gold demand measured by value increased to an all-time record of $236.4 billion. By volume, gold demand fell by 4 percent to 4,405.5 tons. Please join me on the Jewelry News Network Facebook Page, on Twitter @JewelryNewsNet and on the Forbes Web site.
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I am a freelance writer and editor who covers the luxury jewelry and watch industry for several publications, including Forbes.com the Financial Times, Hong Kong-based JewelleryNetAsiaand the Italian jewelry magazine, VO+. In addition, I have my own blog covering the jewelry and watch industry, Jewelry News Network.