28 January, 2022

Annual jewellery consumption rebounded to pre-pandemic levels, boosted by Q4 sprint finish

  • Annual jewellery consumption grew 52% in 2021, fully recovering the losses sustained during 2020
  • Rocketing Indian demand helped drive the fourth quarter global total to 713t – the highest since Q2 2013 
  • In value terms, annual demand reached US$123bn to virtually match the 2013 record.
Tonnes 2020 2021   YoY
World total 1,401.1 2,123.6 52%
India 315.9 610.9 93%
China, P.R.:Mainland 413.8 674.6 63%

Source: Metals Focus, World Gold Council

2021 was a redemption story for global jewellery demand as it recovered fully from the blows inflicted by COVID in 2020. Demand by consumers reached 2,124t, lifted by an exceptional fourth quarter with the release of pent-up demand in India being a key factor. 

Jewellery fabrication rose 67% to 2,221t – the highest since 2018 – in response to strong consumer demand and inventory building of 97t during the year. This inventory replenishment compensated for the 74t of stock depletion seen in 2020 as the jewellery trade battled with the impact of the pandemic.

Strong growth in the first three quarters of 2021 was largely due to base effects (i.e. the extreme weakness of 2020). The fourth quarter, however, had a fairer comparison as Q4 2020 had been robust. This makes the 40% y-o-y increase in the most recent quarter all the more impressive. 

India was a key driver in Q4, but jewellery demand in markets across the globe – almost without exception – was stronger y-o-y. Continued economic recovery and, crucially, the less widespread use of strict lockdown measures to contain COVID, were key reasons. 

While many markets have continued to ease restrictions, it is again worth nothing that varying degrees of market lockdown across the globe continue to impinge on data collection, making data for some markets more susceptible than usual to future revisions once normal fieldwork is able to resume. 


Economic recovery and steady price lifted jewellery demand to pre pandemic levels

Economic recovery and lower price lifted jewellery demand to pre-pandemic levels

Global annual jewellery demand in volume and value terms*

Economic recovery and lower price lifted jewellery demand to pre-pandemic levels
Global annual jewellery demand in volume and value terms*
*Data to 31 December 2021. Source: ICE Benchmark Administration, Metals Focus, Refinitiv GFMS, World Gold Council

Sources: ICE Benchmark Administration, Metals Focus, Refinitiv GFMS, World Gold Council; Disclaimer

*Data to 31 December 2021.


Double-digit y-o-y growth in Q4 concluded a strong 2021 for gold jewellery demand in China. In 2021 China’s gold jewellery demand reached 675t, a 63% y-o-y jump and 6% higher than 2019. Demand was primarily supported by economic recovery from 2020 and a relatively stable gold price during the year. The surging popularity of Heritage gold jewellery items1 and increasing adoption of the per-gram pricing method also contributed. In addition, we believe pent-up wedding gold jewellery demand from 2020 also supported China’s gold jewellery demand growth in 2021.

Meanwhile, a relatively stable gold price and seasonal factors – Chinese consumers tend to buy gold products ahead of the Chinese New Year Festival – were main drivers of the 24% y-o-y growth in the fourth quarter. 

Mass-appeal 24K products lost market share to more intricately designed ranges. The reason for this was two-fold. On the one hand, manufacturers are catering to the demand aesthetic consideration of modern (mainly Gen Y and Gen Z) Chinese consumers, who require higher jewellery design standards. This is especially evident in higher-tier cities. Heritage gold jewellery’s rocketing popularity among these consumers is a quintessential example. 

On the other hand, as local retailers increase the range of per-gram priced products in their inventory, they prefer to focus on items with higher added value from craftsmanship, in order to pursue higher margins. While mass-appeal 24K gold jewellery maintains its popularity in some regions, market share could fall further as products with more intricate designs gain greater prominence. 

Meanwhile the share of plain 18K and 22K product ranges is shrinking. This is likely caused by the rising popularity of 24K Hard Gold jewellery products in recent years.2 Since their inception, these well-designed, light-weight products have been gnawing away at the market share of plain 18K and 22K gold jewellery: our survey results show that the latter items only accounted for 13% of local retailers’ inventories in 2021, lower than that of 24K Hard Gold pieces. 

Looking ahead, a possible slowdown in China’s economic growth and the trend of declining marriage registrations might present challenges. But a stable or declining gold price could provide support. And we believe demand should benefit from continued migration to the per-gram pricing method increasingly adopted by local retailers as well as from the expansion in leading retailers’ points of sale.


Indian gold jewellery demand almost doubled y-o-y in 2021, surging past pre-pandemic levels to reach a six-year high of 611t. Record quarterly demand of 265t in Q4 set the seal on this remarkable annual performance. 

With the easing of lockdown restrictions from June onwards and continued successful roll out of the vaccination program, India’s economy recovered in H2 2021. This boosted consumer sentiment – particularly in urban India – as reflected in an increase in the Reserve Bank of India’s Consumer Confidence Index, which rose to 62.3 in November 2021. Rural demand was supported by normal monsoon rainfall, although crop loss due to floods in the Southern states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu impacted rural demand to a degree.  


Release of pent-up demand in India led to a quarterly record for jewellery in Q4

Release of pent-up demand in India led to a quarterly record for jewellery in Q4

Quarterly Indian jewellery demand*

Release of pent-up demand in India led to a quarterly record for jewellery in Q4
Quarterly Indian jewellery demand*
*Data to 31 December 2021. Source: Metals Focus, Refinitiv GFMS, World Gold Council

Sources: Metals Focus, Refinitiv GFMS, World Gold Council; Disclaimer

*Data to 31 December 2021.

Festivals and weddings were the driving force behind robust Q4 demand. Jewellery demand remained strong in October with festival purchases of Dussehra and Pushya Nakshatra, followed by a robust Dhanteras, with retailers reporting sales volumes above those of pre-pandemic levels.3 

Weddings boosted jewellery demand further in the quarter. Pent-up demand from weddings deferred during Q2 and re-scheduled for Q4 2021 provided a fillip, as did the higher number of auspicious wedding days in Q4 (15 in Q4 2021 vs seven in Q4 2020). With higher wedding purchases and a stable price, consumers preferred gold-for-gold exchange

As the year ahead unfolds, jewellery demand in India should receive support from continued improvement in consumer confidence and income levels. But there are likely challenges too. COVID-19 remains a significant factor, the latest wave of the pandemic prompting renewed Uncertainty and fresh restrictions on the size of weddings and social gatherings, and this see weddings postponed from Q1 to later in the year. Likewise, the sharp release of pent-up demand in Q4 is less likely to be repeated to the same degree in 2022.

Middle East and Turkey

Full year 2021 jewellery demand in Turkey and across much of the Middle East fell short of a return to pre-pandemic levels. 

Turkish jewellery consumers were discouraged by extreme currency-induced volatility in the local gold price during Q4. The gold price was relatively stable during the first few weeks of the quarter, which permitted a 9% y-o-y increase in Q4 demand to 7.4t. But the subsequent sharp rise and rapid correction in the local price later in the quarter saw demand slow to a virtual standstill; as a result, Q4 demand was down 20% from the third quarter. Annual demand recovered to 34t (+31% y-o-y), restrained by the precarious economic situation and surging inflation.

Markets in the Middle East all witnessed significant double-digit y-o-y growth rates in 2021. The UAE led with a 57% increase in annual demand to 34t. Continued improvement in tourist numbers, especially from India, aided this growth, while the relatively effective containment of COVID generated a positive mood that helped local demand. 

The West

US jewellery demand was the strongest for 12 years at 149t (+26%). The value of annual demand was the highest in our series by some margin, at US$8bn. All four quarters saw healthy y-o-y growth, with Q4 demand up 9% y-o-y and 8% higher than the same quarter of 2019. Demand growth was generally considered to be due to the lack of competition for discretionary spending, given the ongoing lull in spending on travel and entertainment. Postponed weddings that were rescheduled to the most recent quarter also had an impact. 

A contributing factor to robust demand volumes was the healthy interest in plain gold items, including heavy chains, and the continued dominance of 14-carat pieces, with the very low 6- and 1-carat ranges having failed to gain traction. 

Jewellery demand in Europe continued its recovery in 2021 but fell short of pre-pandemic levels. Annual demand for the region grew 21% to 68t. Fourth quarter demand was broadly in line with pre-pandemic averages, but the continued interference from restrictions to combat the spread of COVID prevented a full recovery in demand across the region. 

ASEAN markets

Demand for jewellery in Indonesia was 27t for the full year, an increase on the 21t of purchases in 2020 but still well below the 40t annual average of the preceding five years. Q4 jewellery demand in Indonesia rose 26% y-o-y to 10t. Consumer confidence was likely buoyed by the country’s relative success in dealing with the pandemic. New cases fell significantly after peaking in July 2021 and the economy began to normalise following the easing of lockdowns in Q4. GDP growth of 4.5% in the final quarter and the fall in gold prices in November and December likely supported jewellery consumption. 

Annual demand for gold jewellery in Thailand was 8t, a 38% increase on 2020’s 6t. In the fourth quarter jewellery consumption was 20% higher y-o-y – the third consecutive quarter of y-o-y growth. This was the strongest quarter since the pandemic began and reflects Thailand’s continued recovery from the effects of COVID. Whil the jewellery market has improved, consumers are still reluctant to make big-ticket purchases. Tourism has only recently resumed, but arrivals are expected to increase significantly in 2022 likely boosting demand further. 

2021 demand for jewellery in Vietnam was 12t, 11% higher than the 2020 figure of 11t. But the fourth quarter saw a 12% y-o-y fall to 2.5t, as the market was hit hard by COVID. Jewellery shops were allowed to reopen in October, but the severe effects of the pandemic in Vietnam have left consumers cautious about making high value purchases. Despite this, sales picked up in November, reflected in strong q-o-q growth, with promotional campaigns and the wedding season contributing to the recovery. Demand is likely to continue to pick up as Vietnam’s economic recovery boosts consumer confidence. Q4 GDP grew 5.2%, and a major government stimulus package is likely to further support a recovery. 

Jewellery consumption in Singapore increased by 16% y-o-y to 2t in Q4. Annual demand in 2021 was 7t, a 22% increase on the 6t of 2020. Jewellery shops remained open throughout the year, and limited tourism began to resume in H2, which will likely support the market throughout 2022. 

Annual jewellery consumption in Malaysia rose by 10% to 10t, with a 37% y-o-y increase in Q4 to 4t. Lockdowns were eased in August, and pent up demand and seasonal buying continued to support the jewellery market in the final quarter. 

Rest of Asia

Jewellery demand in Japan continued to recover with volumes nearly back to pre-pandemic levels: annual demand was up 12% at 15t. Fourth quarter consumption increased by 9% to 5t, the third consecutive quarter of growth. 

Fourth quarter jewellery demand in South Korea rose by 5% y-o-y to 5t. This was supported by the wedding season, year-end promotions and a weaker gold price. Demand for the full year 2021 was 19t, an increase on the 16t purchased in 2020. 


  1. Also known as ‘antique crafted gold’ these are chunky 24K gold products that evoke the style and craftmanship of ancient China with matte finishing and traditional cultural designs.

  2. After special treatment, 24K Hard Gold is harder than traditional 24ct gold with adequate ductility, allowing manufacturers to produce intricately designed, lighter weight pieces without compromising on the purity of the gold.

  3. Dussehra is a festival celebrated at the end of Navratri each year. Navratri is an annual Hindu festival spanning nine nights and is celebrated as a mark of victory of good over evil. Dussehra was celebrated on 15 October 2021. Pushya Nakshatra is considered the most auspicious nakshatra to bring home Goddess Laxmi – the Goddess of wealth – and is considered auspicious for gold purchases. Pushya Nakshatra falls a few days ahead of Dhanteras (which marks the first day of Diwali), and for 2021 this started on 24 October and ended on 25 October.

Important disclaimers and disclosures [+]Important disclaimers and disclosures [-]