London--Demand for gold jewelry in the United States continues to inch up just a bit every quarter, the World Gold Council’s Gold Demand Trends report for the first quarter shows.
U.S. demand for gold jewelry rose 4 percent to 22.4 tons in the period, up from 21.5 tons in the first quarter 2014, the fifth quarter in a row that demand has increased.
Specifically, U.S. consumers continued to go for higher-carat jewelry but were cautious in their spending.
The WGC said while gold jewelry imports to the U.S. also increased in the first quarter, a sign the trade is stockpiling for sales in the second half of the year, the general mood is one of guarded optimism, with a mix of factors coming into play.
The report states of the U.S. market, “Rising household wealth and economic growth provide support, but conservative consumer attitudes toward spending and a general lack of innovation in the design and market are potential headwinds.”
A market where jewelers struggled for years to sell gold, especially during the economic downturn, the U.S. has seen jewelry demand increase year-over-year in eight of the last 10 quarters, with the only declines coming in the third and fourth quarters of 2013.
It was a “pocket of strength” in the first quarter, a quarter in which global gold sales fell and one that was “generally quiet” worldwide for gold demand as a whole, the WGC said.
Globally, demand for gold--counting jewelry, technology and investment sectors--fell 1 percent year-over-year in volume terms in the first quarter.
Demand for gold jewelry was down 3 percent, including a 10 percent drop in China where buying for the Chinese New Year was “restrained,” the report states.
The average price of gold was down 6 percent compared to the same time a year ago, dropping from $1,293.10 to $1,218.50 per ounce, but is up slightly from the fourth quarter when it averaged $1,201.40 an ounce.