Summary of our market study

France's annual gold consumption is around 20 tonnes

The global gold market is multi-faceted: chemical properties for industrial uses, value in jewelry manufacture, importance as a form of investment and currency.

It is a concentrated market, with high production costs and major players such as China, Australia and Russia dominating both reserves and production. Africa is home to 40% of the world's gold reserves, and South Africa is the continent's leading producer.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a significant drop in demand for gold.

Gold prices fluctuate according to economic conditions, the balance between supply and demand, and speculation on the financial markets.

In France, activities are more focused on gold trading, recycling and processing, given the decline in domestic mining.

The jewelry sector is the leading consumer of gold, followed by investment and central bank demand.

Distribution channels differ according to whether the jewelry is all-gold, diamond-set, stone-set or gold-plated.

The gold collection and recycling industry is organized by cociéts such as Gold by Gold in France.

Market analysis: Dynamics and trends in the French gold sector

France is not a major producer, but the gold recycling and processing sectors are active.

French imports of precious metals, particularly gold, rose from 940 to 950 million euros to almost 1.4 billion euros after the pandemic.

The quantity of gold used in jewelry production has fallen over several years from 12 tonnes to 5.8 tonnes, but demand for gold jewelry remains strong, and jewelry production is showing very strong growth.

France's export performance in the jewelry sector is remarkable. The value of jewelry exports amounted to 7.3 billion dollars, with Switzerland and the United Kingdom being the main export destinations.

Rings account for the largest share of the French market, with 60-65% of French people claiming to wear them. They account for half of all jewelry sales.

In the electronics sector, gold plays an important role, as its properties make it ideal for the production of various electronic components. The French electronics industry accounts for nearly 15 billion euros in sales.

Gold mining is a complex operation with major environmental and political implications. France has a long tradition of gold mining, but economically viable reserves were exhausted in the early 2000s, leading to the closure of major mines such as Salsigne, near Carcassone. Despite this, France has always had a significant gold production of around 3 tonnes at the beginning of the 20ᵉ century.

The players in the gold market

  • Mining giants and producers: at the very heart of the gold industry are the mining and production companies. Africa, with countries such as South Africa, Ghana, Sudan and Mali, plays an important role in global gold reserves and production, with South Africa being the continent's leading producer. internationally, Australia is a significant contributor to global gold production, with over 270 tonnes a year.

  • Jewelry connoisseurs: As the precious metal moves from ore to ornament, the role of jewellers becomes paramount. The jewelry industry is essential to gold's enduring appeal, as it creates beauty from raw gold. Companies like SMAAP and Gold by Gold are thriving in the field of gold recycling and processing, transforming discarded pieces into sparkling new treasures.

  • Refiners and recyclers: In a renewal cycle, refiners and recyclers such as Gold by Gold play an essential role in the supply chain. These companies facilitate the transformation of used and discarded gold into pure, market-ready material, contributing to a sustainable gold economy.

  • Retail innovators: Retail networks such as Or en Cash and Le Comptoir National de l'Or are expanding rapidly, often through franchises, offering customers the opportunity to buy, sell and appreciate the value of gold. Their presence testifies to the enduring appeal of the precious metal for individual consumers.

  • Financial heavyweights: As gold is also a financial asset, gold producers are always aware of the influence of the "paper gold" market, which includes speculators and investors in gold-backed financial instruments. This aspect of the market remains crucial as it influences the price and demand for physical gold.

  • Industry specialists: Small, artisanal French companies are finding their place in a specific segment of the precious metals market, in the field of arts and crafts, diversifying the applications for gold.

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Summary and extracts

1 Market overview

1.1 Introduction

Gold can be defined in different ways. It is both a chemical element (atomic number 79, symbol Au), a precious metal used for its colour and its ductile and soft material unalterable to water and air and a valuable item became a currency in ancient times. These three definitions of gold correspond to the three most important uses of gold:

  • The chemical element where the material gold has applications in several industrial sectors;
  • The precious metal is essential to the jewellery industry;
  • The valuable object is the object of hoarding, investments, financial investments.

The gold market therefore includes several sectors of activity, from the most material (gold mining, processing, industrial use, jewellery) to the more intangible (financial market speculation). The gold market is therefore a very concentrate which is made up of the businesses surrounding the raw material (mining, gold production) but also all the players who derive directly (jewellers, jewellers) or indirectly (stock market speculation) from the underlying asset.

Through the production of gold, the entire gold industry is adapting to changes in the price of an ounce of gold, as it has always been a countercyclical safe haven. Nevertheless, the entire industry must adapt to new rising production costs, which are expected to have a significant impact on market growth. In addition, gold producers are facing the stock speculation (the "paper gold" market) and try to find alternatives in order to maintain price levels that reflect the reality of supply and demand and not the speculation of certain players. The gold production sector is highly concentrated because the barriers to entry are high, especially to operate gold mines. Production costs are increasingly high, forcing players to produce very large volumes to be profitable.

Africa holds 40% of the world's gold reserves. It is therefore a rich continent with great potential. The African gold market is worth more than $65 billion and South Africa is the leading producer country in Africa and the 7th largest in the world, with 140 tons produced in 2016, despite its declining power (it is followed by Ghana, Sudan and Mali). Gold accounts for 70% of Mali's export earnings and the 2nd largest contributor to GDP. The second-largest gold producer in the world behind China and before the United States, Australia is the global leader in industrial mineral resources, with an average annual production of over 270 tonnes of gold, representing 20% of the world's gold production.

In France, several players are positioned on this market. While large-scale players are active in the gold mining segment, more and more players are moving into the segment of gold trading with individuals. In France, for example, players such as Gold by Gold and SMAAP generate most of their turnover in the gold recycling and processing segment. Trading networks, such as Or en Cash or Le Comptoir National de l'Or, are also increasingly present, thanks to a rapidly developing network of franchises.

Despite being a safe haven, the COVID-19 crisis has had a negative impact on the gold market. Indeed, the gold market did not withstand the health crisis: the demand for gold experienced a decline of almost 28% in the fourth quarter of 2019. The gold market has not seen such a large contraction in demand since the 2009 financial crisis, marking the unprecedented nature of the COVID-19 crisis. 

List of charts presented in this market study

  • Countries with the largest gold mine reserves
  • World gold production
  • Major gold-producing countries
  • Global gold demand
  • French imports of precious metals
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Latest news

A group of investors takes over the Gold Service brand - 21/11/2022
  • 26 stores, including 15 in France
  • some sixty employees
  • annual sales of 50 million euros
  • Objective: double sales over the next three years and become European leader within five years
Amiens: opening of the Comptoir national de l'or - 02/09/2022
  • Business: buying and selling of precious metals, jewelry, gold and silver coins and bars
  • Transaction basis: real-time yellow metal prices
  • Network creation: 1976
  • Number of branches in France: over 70
  • Number of branches in Germany: 2
  • Target: 80 sales outlets by 2023
  • Appraisals in 20 years: hundreds of thousands of jewels

Companies quoted in this study

This study contains a complete overview of the companies in the market, with the latest figures and news for each company. :

Barrick Gold Corporation
Newmont Mining Corporation
Anglogold Ashanti Ltd
Heimerle & Meule Group
Gold by Gold
Cookson Métaux précieux (Heimerle & Meule Group)
Or à Décor
Gold Service

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