Demand for gold jewelry in United States hit a 10-year high in the second quarter. This K. Mita Chevron heart ring in 18-karat yellow gold and 18-karat palladium white gold is set with 0.44 carats of kite shape rose-cut champagne diamonds and 0.165 carats of white diamonds ($5,520).
London—Gold jewelry demand in the United States reached 28.3 tons in the second quarter, marking a 10-year high for the period, the World Gold Council said.

Year-over-year, Q2 demand was up 5 percent, continuing the upward trend in the market.

The half-year number for the United States also hit a 10-year high; at 51.9 tons, demand reached a level not seen since 2008.

The market benefitted from a positive domestic economic environment that included rising wages, lower taxes that boosted household incomes, unemployment hitting historic lows and heightened consumer confidence, the WGC said.

The council also said department stores have reported strong jewelry sales—with some even reallocating store space to gold after replacing it with silver during the downturn—and a solid performance from the high end of the market.

Globally, though, gold jewelry demand dropped 2 percent in the second quarter to 510.3 tons.

The WGC noted that while it may seem surprising that gold jewelry demand didn’t pick up during the quarter given the relatively sharp decline in the per-ounce price of gold, it noted that currency weaknesses in many markets meant that local consumers weren’t seeing lower prices. Instead, they were seeing steady, or even higher, prices.

(The average LBMA gold price was $1,305.99 per ounce in Q2 and $1,317.73 per ounce in H1, according to Bloomberg and ICE Benchmark Administration).

Looking at worldwide jewelry demand by region, the Indian and Middle Eastern markets were the main drivers behind the Q2 decline, WGC said.

In India, consumers faced a high local gold price and seasonal challenges, causing demand to drop 8 percent year-over-year to 147.9 tons.

Meanwhile, economic factors and a new value added tax (VAT) introduced in some Middle Eastern markets impacted jewelry demand.  

Iran posted the region’s biggest Q2 decline, 35 percent to 6.6 tons, as the country faced renewed economic sanctions and a collapsing currency.

The United Arab Emirates (-24 percent) and Saudi Arabia (-10 percent) also were down due to the impact of the VAT, while Turkey posted a 10 percent decline as political tensions pushed the local gold price higher.

Egypt was the only country in the region to see improvement, with gold jewelry demand up 10 percent to 5.1 tons, though the year-over-year comparison is against a record-low quarter in 2017.

In addition to the United States, growth in China helped offset the poor demand in India and the Middle East. Gold jewelry demand in China continued its recent recovery, rising 5 percent to 144.9 tons in the second quarter.

Consumers there increasingly are preferring innovative, creative pieces over traditional jewelry, and a greater emphasis is being put on innovative marketing and customer service as well, the WGC said.

Europe also saw a marginal uptick in second quarter demand from 14.4 tons to 14.5 tons, supported by a stable euro gold price, while growth in Indonesia and Vietnam helped offset weakness elsewhere in Asia.

Gold jewelry demand for the first half of the year worldwide remained virtually unchanged year-over-year at 1,031.2 tons.

The market for recycling gold was up 4 percent compared with the prior-year period, driven largely by Turkey and Iran.

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