China’s robust appetite for gold may have abated this year, but sales are still hot in one market niche — 18 carat gold jewelry — the kind of gold preferred by fashion conscious buyers.

“The motive is just to buy a piece of jewelry, much like you would buy a very pretty dress or a handbag,” says Albert Cheng, managing director of World Gold Council’s Far East office.

The material is 75% gold blended with other metals that is more versatile for creating new designs and for setting different kinds of gems, although it’s not as easy to sell back as pure gold jewelry that often doubles as a tool of investment. It’s also cheaper than pure 24-carat gold!

“This year, the overall market has slowed down. Therefore, retail manufacturers have time to produce something different, and they are doing it to attract customers,” says Mr. Cheng.

China’s third quarter gold jewelry sales tumbled by 39% year-on-year to around 147.1 metric tons, according to the World Gold Council.
Mr. Cheng reckons that the segment for 18 carat gold jewelry was nearly zero around a decade ago, but now comprises 10%-15% of the total jewelry market.

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