Strong Q4 lifts full year demand 10%

Annual demand recovered across virtually all sectors – the notable exception being ETFs, which saw net annual outflows

Full year 2021 gold demand (excluding OTC) increased to 4,021t, propelled by Q4 demand which jumped almost 50% to a 10-quarter high.1 Demand recouped much of the COVID-related losses sustained during 2020. Demand for gold in the consumer-driven jewellery and technology sectors recovered throughout the year in line with economic growth and sentiment, while central bank buying also far outpaced that of 2020. Investment demand was mixed in an environment of opposing forces: high inflation competed with rising yields for investors’ attention.  

Jewellery fabrication staged a strong recovery in 2021. It grew 67% to 2,221t to meet the strong rebound in jewellery consumer demand,  which increased 52% in 2021 to 2,124t, matching the 2019 total. This was in good part linked to Q4 demand, which – at 713t – saw the strongest quarterly jewellery consumption  since Q2 2013.  

Global holdings of gold ETFs fell by 173t in 2021 in sharp contrast to 2020’s record 874t increase. Q4 outflows of just 18t were a fraction of the much larger outflows seen in Q4 2020. 

Bar and coin investment maintained its momentum, jumping 31% to an eight-year high of 1,180t. Q4 2021 demand of 318t, meanwhile, was the highest for a fourth quarter since 2016.

Central banks accumulated 463t of gold in 2021, 82% higher than the 2020 total and lifting global reserves to a near 30-year high. The pace of buying slowed in the second half, with a 22% y-o-y decline in Q4.

Gold used in technology grew 9% in 2021, to reach a three-year high of 330t. Y-o-y growth slowed in the most recent quarter (to 2%), highlighting the rapid recovery seen in the sector in Q4 2020.


ETF outflows were the only exception to robust gold demand recovery in 2021

ETF outflows only exception in robust gold demand recovery in 2021

Global annual demand by sector*

ETF outflows only exception in robust gold demand recovery in 2021
Global annual demand by sector*
*Data to 31 December 2021. Source: Metals Focus, World Gold Council

Sources: Metals Focus, World Gold Council; Disclaimer

* Data to 31 December 2021.


The US dollar gold price declined by around 4% during 2021.2  Nevertheless, the average price for the year of US$1,799/oz was around 2% higher than 2020, as the price was relatively steady, holding within a broad range for much of the year.

Total gold supply eased marginally in 2021: down 1% at 4,666t, its lowest level since 2017. Mine production recovered 2% over the year but this growth was counteracted by a sharp 11% drop in recycling.

Jewellery growth was almost universal. Gains were fuelled primarily by the two global heavyweights – India and China – but decent recovery was also seen across all other regions. 

Inflation-driven retail investment reached record levels in some Western markets. Bar and coin demand exceeded previous annual levels in both the US and Germany as investors focused on rising inflationary pressures and low/negative real rates.


  1. We have implemented a few improvements to the methodology used to calculate gold demand, as discussed in the changes to data tables and terminology section.

  2. Based on the LBMA Gold Price PM as of 30 December 2021.

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