A recent visit to the gold market at Al Batha souk in downtown old Riyadh convinced me that the female appetite for the ultimate yellow metal remains extraordinarily high.
Shops were packed with lustrous gold Bedouin jewellery, necklaces, sparkling rings, and bracelets in different designs, offering an impossible choice between the 22K and 21K jewellery and the 24K (99.99 percent purest gold) ingots.
Let’s face it: women have always loved to wear gold jewellery for its natural beauty and the glow it gives to a woman’s face and the glamour it adds to her appearance. But it isn’t just women who crave gold — from ancient times, gold has been of central importance to mankind.
Its allure lies in its uniqueness; only gold combines beauty and rarity with the properties of durability (gold does not rust, tarnish or corrode) and workability (an ounce of gold can be stretched into a wire 80km long).
Gold also has a multitude of uses in industry. For example, its excellent conductivity makes it useful in circuit boards. Considered beneficial for health for centuries, gold has many uses in medicine today.
It is even incorporated in luxury face creams. And gold has great symbolic value, not only as a symbol of status and power but also as a symbol of excellence.
The shiny yellow metal has always been central to the lives of women (and men) not only in Arabia but in the whole Middle East and Asia, in particular India and China, where it is highly treasured as a safe haven for investment and a means of asset protection and payment rather than as just a luxury.
More than 3 billion people in those areas prefer to accumulate wealth in gold jewellery or ingots rather than in bank deposits. Gold jewellery also holds traditional and cultural connotations for those regions playing an essential role in weddings, dowries and gift-giving.
For centuries gold was the basis for monetary exchange value until in the 20th century the gold standard was replaced by fiat currency (money backed by government decree only).
Current gold prices continue to fluctuate as a result of global inflation, interest rates and currencies, consumer spending, market risks, short-term investment flows and supply-related drivers.
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