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China, India are world's top gold jewellery buyers
July 14, 2015, 1:15 pm
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When it comes to buying gold, there are only two countries that stand out. According to the statistics compiled by the World Gold Council, the biggest fans of the precious metal by far are China and India, who scooped up more than 360 tonnes of gold jewellery in the first quarter of 2015.

During the same period, Chinese consumers acquired 213.2 tonnes of gold jewellery, which is still the highest in the world although the number is 10 percent lower than a year earlier.

Indians, on the other hand, beefed up their acquisitions of yellow necklaces, earrings, brooches and other shiny adornments and trinkets, with their total gold jewellery demand hitting 150.8 tonnes, a 22 percent jump from the first quarter last year.

The size of gold purchases of the two countries are clearly eclipsing those of other markets, including United States, Saudi Arabia and UAE, which are the third, fourth and fifth biggest gold jewellery consumers, respectively.

Buying gold has been driven primarily by culture and tradition. Many of the gold jewellery consumers also view the yellow metal as a great store of wealth and more valuable than money.

“Quite a lot of gold purchases are done as an investment,” said Karim Merchant, group CEO and managing director of Pure Gold Jewellers, when asked about the reasons behind India’s love affair with gold.

“It is also an indicator of social status and widely used in the Indian custom of dowry during marriage and also for gifting. Indians by culture are prudent with money hence, they prefer to buy gold over perishable goods like branded bags, watches, expensive clothes. Most importantly, it is seen as an umbrella for a rainy day.”

Buying gold also has deep-rooted religious, not just investment, significance in India, according to Rolf Schneebeli, CEO, Gold Services AG.

“In the case of India, the banking sector and hence the savings possibilities for large parts of the population were limited or non-existent until recently. Also for the sophisticated classes in the cities it was, until recently, the only way of doing an investment in a value that was international, that is not linked to the rupee which was constantly devaluing.”

The same can be said about China’s gold consumption, although the investment philosophy of the typical Chinese is quite different, according to Schneebeli.

“Whereas many Indians are quite long-term oriented, the typical Chinese is almost a ‘gambler’ who is going for short-term profit maximization more likely than other investors.”

Here’s a quick look at the world’s top 10 gold jewellery consumers as of the first quarter:

Country 

Gold jewellery demand (tonnes)

1.China:

213.2

2. India:

150.8

3. United States:

22.4

4. Saudi Arabia:

17.3

5. UAE:

16.5

6. Hong Kong:

13.6

7. Indonesia:

12.6

8. Russia:

11.8

9. Turkey: 

10.4

10. Iran:

9.8

Source: World Gold Council

Source: Gulf News

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