We know Egyptian pharaohs were buried wearing it and the extremely wealthy in Ancient Rome donned it too, but while many in the west today look at Gold primarily as a safe haven investment, gold jewelry remains a very important part of several cultures, often for reasons tied to its value as an investment. In fact, jewelry represents the greatest demand for gold, followed by retail investment (bars and coins), the net official sector (central banks) and industrial fabrication. (See also, What Drives The Price Of Gold?)
Here are the top 10 countries with the highest gold jewelry consumption in 2015 and Q2 2016:
Gold Jewelry Consumption 2015
Source: GFMS Gold Survey 2016
Gold Jewelry Consumption Q2 2016
Source: GFMS Gold Survey 2016 Q2 Update and Outlook
India and China continue to retain the top two spots when it comes to buying gold jewelry, according to figures published in the latest Thomson Reuters GFMS Gold Survey report which include "fine gold content of all new jewelry sold at the retail level (excluding the exchange of old for new jewelry), calculated by taking jewelry fabrication, plus imports less exports and adjusting for retail stock movements. "
(The World Gold Council, a market development organization backed by the gold industry, publishes a similar ranking, and while the some of the figures differ, their top gold jewelry consumers ranking closely resembles that of Thomson Reuters and their analysts )
In the second quarter of 2016, India and China accounted for 44% of gold jewelry consumption globally. The two countries saw higher demand for gold jewelry than all of Europe, South America, Africa and North America combined. The two countries also saw the highest demand globally for physical gold bars. This was despite a steep fall in demand. In the April-June quarter, demand in India more than halved and demand in China fell 24%, compared to the same quarter last year. (See also, China's Love Affair With Gold)
In India, analysts are expecting the subdued prices, the good monsoon this year and the upcoming festive season to boost sales.Two-thirds of the gold demand in India comes from the rural areas where investing and banking options are limited. Since most of India's rural areas are dependent on agriculture, gold demand is often tied to grain production and a good monsoon. Gold is also an important part of wedding rituals and traditions and the wedding season, which begins after Diwali, is usually a time when demand rises.
According to the World Gold Council, demand in China is weak due to the volatility of gold prices, changing consumer tastes, and more broadly, the economic slowdown. In a recent report, it said, "A shifting preference for fashionable, unique, highly-designed 18k or gem-set pieces has come at the expense of traditional 24k jewelry. Our survey showed that, of the more-than 1,000 respondents who had bought gold in 2015, 18–30 year olds were more likely to buy 18k jewelry than 24k (39% vs 25%)."
While global gold jewelry demand fell 27.5% (year-over-year) last quarter, a few countries saw demand grow. Among them were Iran (12%), the United States (12.4%), Canada (11%) and Saudi Arabia (2.4%).