National Jeweler Network

Market Developments

For gold, 2013 was the ‘year of the consumer’

February 20, 2014

London--Gold jewelry demand in the United States rose 13 percent in volume terms last year while total U.S. consumer demand for the metal was up 18 percent, the World Gold Council’s report for 2013 shows.

According to Gold Demand Trends, published Tuesday by the WGC, consumers remain the key drivers in the demand for gold not only in the United States but across the world as well, whether they want it for jewelry or are buying bars and coins for investment purposes. 

In 2013, the global gold market saw 21 percent growth in demand from consumers, though outflows from exchange-traded funds, or ETFs, resulted in a 15 percent net decline in gold demand from 2012 with a full-year total of 3,756 tons.

Demand for gold jewelry in 2013 increased 17 percent to 2,209 tons while investment in bars and coins was up 28 percent to 1,654 tons.

The WGC notes that last year China surpassed India as the world’s biggest gold market, though both recorded increases--consumer demand for the metal in the former was up 32 percent last year to a record high of 1,066 tons, while demand in India was up 13 percent to 975 tons.

The increases in consumer demand came, not surprisingly, as the per-ounce price of the metal fell. According to the WGC’s report, the average price of gold for 2013 was $1,411 per ounce, a 15 decrease from 2012.

“2013 has been a strong year for gold demand across sectors and geographies, with the exception of western ETF markets,” said Marcus Grubb, managing director of investment strategy at the WGC. “Specifically, it was the year of the consumer. Although demand has continued its shift from West to East, the growing demand for gold bars, coins and jewelry is a global phenomenon.”

Last fall, the WGC reported that gross demand for gold jewelry in the United States exceeded recycling in the third quarter, the first time that had happened in a non-holiday season quarter in four years.

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Increasingly positive sentiment among consumers across the country combined with lower prices that encouraged stocking of gold jewelry reversed the trend, with increased demand for higher-quality gold, 18-karat instead of 14-karat, helping propel growth further.

The WGC said then that it expected demand to remain “resilient” in the fourth quarter.  

They followed up in this week’s Gold Demand Trends report with the news that “a fourth consecutive quarter of year-on-year growth in jewelry demand in the U.S. generated annual demand volumes close to levels last seen in 2010,” as well as the first annual increase since 2001.