After a Turbulent Year, Here’s Where the Gold Price Is Now

MajorsAug 16, 2021

After a Turbulent Year, Here’s Where the Gold Price Is Now

National Jeweler examines the average price of the metal in H1 and the U.S. market’s “considerable growth” in gold jewelry demand.

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London—The past year-and-a-half has been, unsurprisingly, something of a roller-coaster ride for the price of gold.

The precious metal started 2020 averaging $1,560.67 an ounce, according to Kitco, then rose until mid-March, when it fell to a low of $1,474.25 as governments worldwide began enacting stay-at-home orders because of COVID-19.

From there, the price of gold started climbing, rising every month until it passed the $2,000-per-ounce mark in August—its highest point in eight years.

It didn’t stay there long, dropping back down and finishing the year with a cumulative average of $1,769.64 an ounce.

This year hasn’t quite seen the peaks and dips experienced in 2020, but notable swings in 2021 include a high of $1,902.75 in June and a low of $1,683.95 in March, Kitco charts show. 

According to Kitco, the gold price has averaged $1,803.57 per ounce so far this year.

The World Gold Council said the price of gold averaged $1,816.50 per ounce in the second quarter, only slightly higher than the first quarter and up 6 percent year-over-year. 

Meanwhile, gold jewelry demand is working its way back up in some markets after being dealt a huge blow last year during the COVID-19 pandemic, WGC’s latest “Gold Demand Trends” report shows. 

Global gold jewelry demand in Q2 was 60 percent higher year-over-year at 390.7 tons, but that’s compared with Q2 2020, when demand was “slashed” by the pandemic.

WGC noted the strong second quarter in 2021 was bolstered by global economic recovery and improving consumer sentiment. 

While gold jewelry demand is improving, it still has a way to go before it reaches pre-pandemic levels, WGC added.  

When compared with 2019, demand remains “significantly weaker”—second quarter demand is 26 percent lower than Q2 2019, and H1 demand is down 18 percent. 

H1 demand of 873.7 tons was 17 percent lower than its 2015-2019 average in the six-month period, WGC reported. 

On a positive note, the United States was one of the markets generating “considerable growth” in gold jewelry demand so far in 2021, proving to be more resilient this year. 

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The market’s gold jewelry demand in Q2 was $22.8 billion, taking H1 total spending to $50.7 billion, which is 18 percent higher than the 2015-2019 H1 average and the highest H1 total since 2014. 

(WGC noted that continued travel restrictions and varying degrees of market lockdowns across the globe continue to disrupt data collection, so some markets “may be more susceptible than usual to future revisions once normal fieldwork can resume.”) 

The WGC attributed Q2 demand for gold jewelry in the U.S. to the same factors that supported the market in Q1—improved consumer sentiment due to the vaccination program, federal income support measures, and economic growth.

U.S. consumers also remain somewhat limited in their ability to travel, thereby diverting disposable incomes to other areas, including gold jewelry. 

China also has experienced strong demand for gold jewelry so far this year, with gold jewelry demand in the first half of the year the highest it’s been since 2015. 

H1 jewelry demand was 338 tons, a 122 percent increase year-over-year and 6 percent increase over H1 2019, amid a strengthening Chinese economy and increasing disposable incomes. 

Meanwhile, struggles in the Indian market—a huge player when it comes to gold jewelry—greatly impacted the overall numbers. 

India was one of the hardest hit markets in 2020 and experienced a devastating second wave of COVID-19 in Q2 2021. 

After starting the second quarter on a strong note, demand weakened toward the end of April before coming to a near-standstill in May, WGC said, as the second wave swept across India and resulted in regional lockdowns and fears of economic shutdown. 

H1 gold jewelry demand in India totaled 157.6 tons, which is 46 percent below H1 2019 and 39 percent lower than the H1 average from 2015-2019. 

WGC said it is optimistic about the rest of the year for the Chinese market but noted the outlook for the remainder of 2021 in India was “mixed,” especially with the possible threat of a third wave of COVID-19 and more lockdowns. 

For the overall gold jewelry market, WGC said demand could be in the range of 1,600-1,800 tons for the year, which would be well above 2020 levels but below the five-year average.

It added that while another variant-driven COVID-19 wave would create challenges for the sector, it still believes that “a repeat of last year’s low jewelry demand levels [is] highly unlikely.” 
Brecken Branstratoris the senior editor, gemstones at National Jeweler, covering sourcing, pricing and other developments in the colored stone sector.

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