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Holiday Gold Giving!

holiday-gold-shoppingHave you been in the malls in the last month or so? Gold prices are up, but so are the “sale” and “deep discount” signs.  But gold is expected to do okay this season, as retailers sink deep into the worry zone that has clinched all businesses during this downturn. reports that nearly half (45 percent) of all gold jewelry sold in the US changes hands in the fourth quarter of the calendar year, which coincides with the traditional gift-giving time of Christmas.

Statistics show this is a growing trend.  Fifteen years ago, only around 42 percent of gold jewellery sales occurred in the fourth quarter and sales across the whole year were marginally more balanced than they are now.

Although the sales of all jewellery are substantially higher in the final quarter, the trend is particularly indicative of gold jewellery, which many industry insiders say is due to the precious metal’s prominence as a ‘gift metal’ rather than something one would buy for oneself.

If you are buying gold this season, chances are that it is in the form of a gift, for a particularly close loved one.  What can you tell by looking at the item?  Many people want to know where the gold was sourced or where the particular piece was manufactured.  Depending on the country that your gold jewellery was purchased in you may be able to tell where the gold jewellery was manufactured from the hallmarking on the item.

Hallmarking is only a legal requirement in some countries, for example the United Kingdom.  And from personal experience traveling in the Mideast, I can tell you that Egypt requires all gold items to be stamped with an identifying mark.  (They also put the current price of gold in the local newspapers, accessible to all.) In Egypt, fraudulently stamping such items carries severe penalties.  Meantime, in other countries hallmarking is done voluntarily, and in others is not carried out at all.  In countries where hallmarking is carried out, small symbols are made to the item which identifies information such as caratage, country of manufacture and company that manufactured it.

The extent of the information available from the hallmark depends on the hallmarking standards of the country that the jewellery was purchased in. Unfortunately, present standards do not require markings or information about where the precious metal comes from.  Roughly two-thirds of all gold is mined, and approximately 20% comes from recycled gold, also known as “scrap” gold.

Either way, know that your gift (or purchase during post-holiday sales!) will be appreciated for its beauty and ability to stand the test of time.  And of course, the thought with which it is given.

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