Revealed: Top 10 Countries With the Highest Demand for Gold Jewellery
If you’re a jewellery collector, or simply an admirer, you might have already found yourself asking where is the most gold found in the world. You might be interested to learn who buys the most gold too.
For centuries, cultures across the world have revered gold jewellery for its unique lustre, its durable nature, and its sustained value. It’s not surprising – it’s exactly the same today, and it’s why gold jewellery makes such a great investment or gift.
In this post, you’ll learn more about the countries that buy the most gold and the cultural importance of gold in those countries.
When talking about who has the most gold in the world, it’s easy to think about who has the biggest gold reserves. However, these figures aren’t quite the same as which countries are the biggest consumers of gold.
China is not only the world’s top gold bullion buyer, but the Chinese are also avid buyers of gold jewellery. While the demand for gold jewellery fell in 2019 and during the Covid-19 pandemic, the slump is over now.
In China, 65% of gold consumption is accounted for by jewellery. This is not only due to the amount of upper-income earners in the country, but also because of Chinese traditions. For instance, during the pre-wedding ceremony Jing Cha, the groom’s family often gives gold jewellery gifts to the bride to wear on her wedding day.
Much like in China, gold jewellery is an auspicious gift in India. So much so that Indian households have the largest private gold holdings in the world, at approximately 24,000 tonnes.
While also a huge part of weddings, gold jewellery and gifts are also exchanged during festivals such as Diwali.
Traditional Indian jewellery styles are extremely elaborate and intricate, and less is never more. Indian brides may wear stacked bangles, multiple necklaces, and embellished maang tikkas (pendants worn on the forehead). This means that the demand for gold for jewellery is much larger than in the Western world, where more delicate styles may be preferred
The United States has the most gold in the world. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York holds almost $200 billion worth of gold, stored five stories underground.
Of course, America has been synonymous with gold mining since the California Gold Rush in the 17th century. However, it’s not only this that has fueled the State’s gold vaults.
In the 1950s, the Bretton Woods international exchange system saw the U.S. offer to hold and protect other countries’ gold in exchange for dollars. During that time, between 90 and 95% of the entire world’s gold lay in the country.
In terms of jewellery, again it’s weddings that drive demand. A gold wedding band is still the most popular choice for American brides and grooms. Due to the number of postponed weddings over the pandemic, the amount of gold jewellery purchased soared in 2021, and this has continued in 2022 too.
United Arab Emirates
Dubai is known worldwide as one of the top places to buy gold jewellery. The city’s Gold Souk market boasts around 300 shops, each brimming with beautiful gold pieces of every kind.
A recurring theme, Emirati jewellery is an important part of a traditional henna party, which takes place a few days before a wedding.
In the past few years, traditional weddings have become more and more popular with young Emirati women, so their families are also becoming some of the biggest consumers of gold in the world.
Turkish jewellery lovers also have a huge appreciation for gold jewellery, and many of the country’s most traditional designs feature gold and gold coins. For instance, the beşi bir yerde is a necklace featuring one or several Turkish gold coin pendants.
Another popular style is a ray bilezik bangle. Often twisted or textured on the outside and flat on the inside, the classic appearance means it’s never fallen out of fashion. Women may wear these stacked, especially when attending family events, and they are also commonly given to newborn babies.
Home to the historic Bazar-e-Bozorg, Iran is one of the largest buyers of gold jewellery in the Middle East and the world. Outside the bazaar in Yazd, another city, traditional goldsmiths work their magic with the metal, creating unique and highly sought-after pieces.
Yazd gold jewellery is intricate and completely handmade. Of many popular styles, Chin-Abi chains are highly coveted. As this distinctive style is only created in Yazd, many foreign tourists also come to the country to purchase jewellery, driving up demand.
Although Shariah law did not permit investment in gold until December 2016, the country has quickly become one of the biggest consumers of gold in the world.
Many jewellers in Saudi Arabia have also noticed an increased demand for gold jewellery since the COVID-19 pandemic. In times of economic uncertainty, many people choose to put their money into gold, and this was the case for a lot of Saudi women.
In terms of purity, 21k, 22k, and 24k pieces now make up around 80 of the total demand for gold in Saudi Arabia, while 18k pieces have fallen out of favour. Much of the gold jewellery in Saudi Arabia is also bought during the last ten days of Ramadan.
Indonesia is home to one of the world’s largest gold deposits and one of the largest gold mines, The Grasberg Project. Located in the highlands of the Sudirman Mountain Range, approximately 18,000 people work in the mine.
Although Indonesia sits on huge amounts of gold, the consumer profile looks a little different than other countries in this list. Because the population is less affluent, lesser quality pieces are more popular, often embellished with cubic zirconia instead of diamonds.
Russia’s central bank has long been a great purchaser of gold and in 2018, Russia overtook China as the fifth largest holder of gold reserves. Individual Russian customers also have a taste for luxury gold jewellery, and the country has many traditional designs too.
A Russian wedding ring, for example, is made of three intertwined gold rings. The design typically has one white, one rose, and one yellow gold ring.
The three bands symbolise the Holy Trinity of the Orthodox Church; the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. While many modern couples choose to ascribe different meanings to the three bands, the tri-colour style remains very popular.
Gold jewellery has always been popular in Egypt. In fact, the ancient Egyptians loved the precious metal so much they referred to it as ‘the flesh of the Gods’. This admiration has never waivered, and it’s still very popular and fashionable in the country today.
Gold prices in Egypt are also relatively cheap compared to elsewhere in the world. As such, Egypt is a popular destination for tourists looking to pick up a beautiful piece on their travels. The demand is so high that many Egyptian tour and travel companies include a visit to the gold bazaars in their itineraries.
As you can see, gold is both treasured and sought-after across the world. Its stunning shine and colour have enchanted jewellery collectors and investors for centuries, and it holds a lot of cultural significance too.
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