By Michelle Graff
London--Gross demand for gold jewelry in the United States exceeded recycling in the third quarter, marking the first time that has happened in a non-holiday season quarter since 2009, the World Gold Council’s (WGC) latest Gold Demand Trends report shows.

According to the report, published Thursday by the WGC, recycling of gold jewelry by recession-strapped, cash-starved consumers has exceeded the demand for new gold jewelry in the U.S. market in every quarter since the third quarter 2009, outside of fourth quarters in which jewelry demand is buoyed by the holidays.

But increasingly positive sentiment among U.S. consumers and lower prices that encourage stocking of gold jewelry have reversed the trend, with increased demand for higher-quality gold, 18-karat instead of 14-karat, helping to cement the growth.

According to the report, U.S. demand for gold jewelry was 35.3 tons in the third quarter, 7 percent greater than the five-year average of 32.9 tons.

The WGC said it expects demand to be “resilient” in the fourth quarter, even in the face of wavering consumer confidence.

“Given recent developments in the United States,” the report states, presumably referring to the recent government standoff, “consumer sentiment has taken a hit early in the fourth quarter, but the seasonal impact, together with prices holding below $1,400 an ounce, suggests a certain amount of resilience.”

The price of gold was down 20 percent in the third quarter 2013 as compared with the third quarter 2012, and has been dropping steadily since the fourth quarter 2012, when the average per-ounce price of gold stood at $1,721.80.

The average price of gold in the third quarter 2013 was $1,326.30, compared with $1,652 in the same period a year ago.

Globally, demand for gold jewelry was 486.7 tons in volume terms, the third-highest quarter since 2010 but below the record volume of demand recorded in the previous quarter. Year-to-date, demand is at 1,644.5 tons, 20 percent above the same period last year.

In value terms, jewelry demand fell 15 percent in the third quarter due to the lower average gold price. According to the WGC, third quarter demand totaled $20.8 billion, the lowest quarterly value since the third quarter 2010.

Year-to-date, demand is up 6 percent in value terms, standing as $77.3 billion compared with $72.9 billion a year ago.

The report noted that the increased demand for higher-carat gold jewelry was a trend worldwide, in Asia and the Middle East as well as the U.S.

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