By Michelle Graff
The World Gold Council’s latest Gold Demand Trends report stated that U.S. demand for higher-end gold jewelry was robust in the first quarter. The “Linea” cuff in 18-karat yellow gold from designer Karma El Khalil retails for $26,000.
London—The U.S. government shutdown put a dent in gold jewelry demand in the first quarter, the World Gold Council said in its latest report.

Gold jewelry demand reached 24 tons in the market in Q1. While it was a 1 percent year-over-year increase—and the ninth consecutive quarter of growth—the pace of growth slowed “notably.”

The U.S. government shutdown that started Dec. 22 and didn’t end until Jan. 25 impacted demand at the start of the year, and the market continued to show bifurcation along class lines.

Sales of higher-end gold jewelry were robust, and independents in more affluent and/or Hispanic-dominated neighborhoods reported a strong first quarter, the WGC said. Demand for gold jewelry at lower-tier retailers, however, was not as resilient.

The WGC also noted that gold is losing ground to both platinum and alternative metals in the men’s wedding band market in the United States.

Worldwide, first quarter gold jewelry demand inched up 1 percent to 530.3 tons.

Demand dropped in China, the world’s largest market for gold jewelry, slipping 1 percent due to the slowing domestic economy and the ongoing trade war with the United States, which is impacting consumer sentiment in China, the WGC report said.

In the world’s second largest market for gold jewelry, India, first quarter demand rose 5 percent as the local price of gold dropped in the first week of March and consumers rushed to buy wedding jewelry.

Price-wise, Kitco data for Q1 shows that the metal averaged between $1,291.75 and $1,300.90 between January and March.

Gold hit its highest price for the three-month period in February at $1,343.75 and its lowest in January at $1,279.55.

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