29 July, 2021

Q2 jewellery demand rebounded 60% y-o-y

  • Jewellery demand of 390.7t in Q2 was 60% higher y-o-y, having been slashed by the pandemic in Q2 2020
  • But demand has some way to go before it returns to ‘normal’ pre-pandemic levels: H1 demand of 873.7t was 17% lower than the 2015-2019 H1 average
  • Among the markets generating considerable growth were China and the US.
Tonnes Q2'20 Q2'21   YoY
World total 244.5 390.7 60%
India 44.0 55.1 25%
China, P.R.:Mainland 90.7 146.9 62%

Source: Metals Focus, World Gold Council

Jewellery demand saw a second consecutive quarter of strong y-o-y growth, bolstered by global economic recovery and improving sentiment after the extreme difficulties of 2020. But, despite the strong year-on-year growth, demand remains some way below its longer-term average levels. Comparisons with 2019 – which are arguably more meaningful, given the anomaly of 2020 – show that demand remains significantly weaker: Q2 demand is 26% lower than Q2 2019, while H1 demand is down 18%.

The impact of India on these numbers is significant: not only was it one of the hardest hit markets in 2020, but it was also severely affected by the second wave of COVID-19 in the second quarter of 2021, which prevented a material q-o-q recovery. 

Jewellery demand in US dollar value terms was more resilient. In Q2, the value of jewellery demand reached US$22.8bn, taking H1 total spending to US$50.7bn, 18% higher than the H1 average from 2015-2019 and the highest H1 total since 2014. 

It is worth noting that continued travel restrictions and 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 fieldwork can resume as normal. 


H1 global jewellery volume below pre-pandemic levels; value on par with 2014

H1 global jewellery volume below pre-pandemic levels; value on par with 2014

H1 jewellery demand, tonnes and US$bn

H1 global jewellery volume below pre-pandemic levels; value on par with 2014
H1 jewellery demand, tonnes and US$bn
*Data as at 30 June 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 as at 30 June 2021.



China’s Q2 gold jewellery demand surged 62% y-o-y to 147t. Continued improvement in the domestic economy compared with 2020 fuelled the substantial y-o-y rise. Taking 2020 out of the equation, demand was 8% higher than Q2 2019 and 5% above the Q2 average between 2010 and 2019. 

But a higher local gold price than the first quarter, lower sales in Q2 due to seasonality patterns, and local consumers’ premature purchases earlier this year – which pushed Q1 gold jewellery consumption to the highest since 2015 – contributed to a 23% q-o-q decrease in China’s gold jewellery demand in the second quarter. 

This brings H1 Chinese gold jewellery demand to 338t, 122% higher y-o-y and 6% higher than H1 2019. While the low base of H1 2020 due to the pandemic was the main contributor to the sharp y-o-y rise, the strengthening Chinese economy and various consumption stimuli lifted local gold jewellery consumption to the highest H1 since 2015. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, Chinese consumers’ nominal disposable income increased 12.6% y-o-y and 15.4% compared with H1 2019, leading to strong retail sales during the same period. 

Heritage gold jewellery products continued to gain in popularity.1 While the traditional Chinese cultural design and weight have gained high-end consumers’ interests, as we have previously mentioned, the Guochao – which refers to the fashion trend embedding Chinese culture – element of these products has also caught the eye of younger generations. Since its emergence as a concept in 2018, searches for Guochao on Baidu – the largest search engine in China – has soared. According to a joint report released by Baidu and the Research Institute of People. cn in May, the post-1990 generation has been the driving force behind Guochao’s phenomenal popularity in recent years.2 This coincides with our observation of a steadily rising interest in heritage gold among young consumers’ over recent quarters.


China's H1 gold jewellery demand was the highest since 2015

China's H1 gold jewellery demand was the highest since 2015

Chinese H1 jewellery demand, tonnes

China's H1 gold jewellery demand was the highest since 2015
Chinese H1 jewellery demand, tonnes
*Data as of 30 June 2021. Source: Metals Focus, Refinitiv GFMS, World Gold Council

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

*Data as at 30 June 2021.


Meanwhile, Chinese consumers are demanding greater transparency in gold jewellery products’ pricing. This was particularly evident in hard-24K gold jewellery products which primarily adopt a ‘per-piece’ pricing method, providing consumers little or no visibility to the fine gold weight of a product, or the labour charges associated with its manufacture. Our conversations with industry participants indicate that today, the heavier the product, the more difficult it is to sell on a ‘per-piece’ pricing basis. As discussed in our previous Gold Demand Trends report, some Chinese jewellery retailers have already started to change their pricing models to provide consumers with greater transparency. This trend, albeit at its initial stage, is likely to intensify as clarity and transparency in pricing are key to gain consumers’ trusts. 

Looking ahead for the rest of the year, we are optimistic about the prospects for Chinese gold jewellery demand. Not only is Q2 historically a seasonally low quarter for gold jewellery demand, but policy makers continue to focus on stimulating domestic consumption, with initiatives such as shopping festivals likely to be supportive of local gold consumption. Furthermore, economic growth should remain supportive; the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) announced a required reserve ratio cut for all deposit-taking financial institutions in early July, to lower the economy’s borrowing cost and further accommodate growth. 


The 25% y-o-y increase in India’s Q2 jewellery demand was largely due to the very low base from Q2 2020; demand plunged 46% q-o-q as the second wave of COVID-19 hit the nation. For H1, demand totalled 157.6t, 46% below H1 2019 and 39% lower than the H1 average from 2015-2019.

Having started the quarter on a buoyant note, demand weakened towards the end of April, before coming to a virtual standstill in May as the ferocity of the second wave across both urban and rural India resulted in regional lockdowns and sparked fears of economic slowdown. The RBI Consumer Confidence Index fell to an all-time low of 48.5 in May from 53.1 in March, while the one-year-ahead confidence index also recorded a sharp fall.

The lockdown and store closures impacted wedding demand and – for a second consecutive year – Akshaya Tritiya festival demand. The slump in demand pushed the local gold price to a discount, which widened to US$9-10/oz by early June before narrowing to around US$5-6/oz but remained in place despite a recovery in demand towards the end of the quarter. Indicative of the extent of the lockdown, Titan reported that for April, May and June, total store operational days were at 73%, 10% and 58% respectively


Indian Q2 jewellery demand impacted by second wave of COVID-19

Indian Q2 jewellery demand impacted by second wave of COVID-19

Quarterly jewellery demand, tonnes

Indian Q2 jewellery demand impacted by second wave of COVID-19
Quarterly jewellery demand, tonnes
Source: Metals Focus, World Gold Council

Sources: Metals Focus, World Gold Council; Disclaimer


Rural consumers were less resilient to the lockdown than in 2020. Incomes were hit as rural consumers ploughed their savings into the medical expenditures incurred during the pandemic and turned more cautious  in making any discretionary purchases for jewellery. 

In an important step for the development of India’s gold industry, mandatory hallmarking was introduced from 16 June. A press release from the Ministry of Consumer Affairs announced the introduction of mandatory hallmarking across 256 districts of India for 14K, 18K and 22k gold jewellery. 

The outlook for the remainder of 2021 remains mixed. The threat exists of a third wave of COVID-19, and consequent further lockdowns. The impact of the second wave on incomes and sentiment may reduce pent up demand, while the slow progress of the monsoon so far in 2021 may impact rural demand, through the effect on incomes. There are, however, a greater number of auspicious wedding days in Q4 2021 compared with Q4 2020 (13 vs 7). 

Middle East and Turkey

Q2 jewellery demand in Turkey more than doubled y-o-y to 8.1t, although remained soft in comparison with pre-pandemic levels. A depreciating lira meant that local gold prices rose sharply through the quarter, and demand was further hit by a full lockdown for the first half of May. The lifting of restrictions in June, together with the arrival of expats, breathed some life back into the market, but demand was 12% q-o-q.

Strong y-o-y growth across almost all of the Middle East was largely a result of the low base from Q2 2020; demand was lower q-o-q in all markets except Iran. Iranian Q2 jewellery demand increased more than three-fold y-o-y as the rial stabilised and sentiment was buoyed by a reduction in COVID cases. Demand improved q-o-q as local gold prices edged lower. Demand in the UAE increased 471% y-o-y but was 21% below 2019 due to high gold prices and sentiment among expats soured by India’s second wave difficulties. Tourist purchases were also impacted, as flights from Saudi Arabia were cancelled.

The West

The US was one of the strongest performing jewellery markets in Q2. Demand of 37.7t was the strongest for a Q2 since 2007. The value of quarterly demand – at US$2.2bn – is a Q2 record. 

While the low base from 2020 helps explain the 103% y-o-y increase, Q2 demand was also 31% higher than Q2 2019. Q2 demand was supported by broadly the same factors as in Q1: namely, the vaccination programme and income support measures lifting sentiment, further boosted by improved economic growth. With the US consumers still limited in their ability to travel, gold jewellery was a notable beneficiary of disposable income.

Easing of lockdowns and improving sentiment across Europe boosted gold jewellery demand: it rebounded 76% y-o-y to 13.4t. Demand across the region also saw a considerable 35% q-o-q increase, far exceeding the 13% average seasonal lift from 2015-2019. H1 demand of 23.2t remains below the longer-term average of around 27t however, due to the weak Q1 figure. Y-o-y growth was seen across all markets, led by Germany (+115%), Italy (+99%) and France (+86%). 

ASEAN region

Q2 demand increased y-o-y in all major South East Asian gold markets, with the largest growth seen in Thailand (159%), Vietnam (120%) and Singapore (118%). Healthy y-o-y growth was fuelled by the economic recovery seen in most markets, as well as being a function of Q2 2020 weakness. Jewellery consumption in Vietnam more than doubled y-o-y to 3.5t in Q2, aided by Mother’s Day celebrations. Indonesia was a laggard in Q2 – demand grew by just 4% y-o-y as the second wave of COVID-19 took its toll. Although y-o-y demand grew in most markets across the region, recent surges in infections across  South East Asia have led to widespread quarter-on- quarter declines. 

Other Asia

Demand across the smaller east/south east Asian markets was higher compared with Q2 2020, but much of this was due to the low base effect. Healthy y-o-y growth was widespread across the renewed, boosted by recovering economic growth. But a surge in infections impacted much of the region during the quarter and was reflected in quarter-on-quarter declines in most markets. Indonesia was a laggard in Q2 – demand grew by just 4% y-o-y as the second wave of COVID-19 took its toll.


  1. Also known as ‘Antique crafted gold’, these are chunky 24K gold products in the style of ancient Chinese craftsmanship with matte finishing and traditional Chinese cultural designs.

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