Gold jewelry demand down 2% in 2001

The demand for gold for jewelry fell slightly in 2001 amid the global economic downturn. However, the slowdown in jewelry purchases was offset by a rise in sales of gold for investment as consumers sought a safe haven from volatile stock markets and security threats, according to Gold Demand Trends No. 38, released Thursday by the World Gold Council, London.

The World Gold Council said that gold sales totaled 3,235.1 metric tons last year, a 2% drop from 2000. A metric ton equals about 2,204 pounds or 32,150 ounces.

The report said that sales of gold for jewelry totaled 2,840.3 tons in 2001, a 2% drop from the year earlier. Purchases in the fourth quarter were 767.1 tons, down 4% from the year-earlier quarter.

Gold for investment, meanwhile, totaled 394.9 tons in 2001, up 4% from 2001. In the fourth quarter, sales were 109.9 tons, a rise of 8% from the year-earlier period.

For 2001, gold sales in India-the world’s largest gold market-were unchanged at 855.2 tons, the report said. Sales in the United States, the second largest market, were 409.5 tons, up 3%. Sales in Japan were up 12% for the year at 109.3 tons.

“New annual records were set in Mexico, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and Vietnam,” the report said.

“Jewelry demand may remain fragile in the first months of this year but I look forward to much stronger results later as the global economy recovers, enabling the additional promotional measures we put in place last year to take their full effect,” said Haruko Fukuda, chief executive of the World Gold Council.

The report also noted that “jewelry demand in the United States, despite the economic and political climate, was a record for the 11th consecutive year.”

The only top 10 markets that registered declines were Turkey, down 42 percent to 120 tons, and Pakistan, down 2 percent to 119.4 tons.

The price of gold averaged $271.05 an ounce last year, the council said.