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China Gold Frenzy 2013 Edition

Last year, I posted some pictures from the Caibai market just before the Chinese New Year showing China's gold frenzy. It was the Year of the Dragon and sales were brisk.

Today, the crowds were bigger and there was a very long line to buy investment gold and silver. It was almost impossible to look at the jewelry without forcing your way through the crowd, which was sometimes 3 people deep in front of the counters. I saw clerks turning over inventory rapidly, pulling out new necklaces to fill empty cases where everything had been purchased. Studded earrings were severely depleted and nearly impossible to look at since they were in the price range of almost any Chinese worker will gainful employment.

I snapped fewer pictures this year because the guards were more vigilant. I was asked to stop just before I could snap a pic of a 600+ gram golden cobra statue (Year of the Snake) that looked like it belonged in the Cobra Commander's war room.

Although China's gold markups are higher than in the U.S. for bullion coins, the markups are consistent across products. The beautifully designed jewelry sells for the same price as the intricately carved bullion bars and statues. The cheapest were about 370 yuan/g, which translates into $1850 gold, and went up into the 400+ range. There were also plain vanilla investment bars with markups similar to what you'd find in the States.

No doubt, gold imports will be up when the numbers are reported. One noticeable difference: fewer people were buying the gold objects in the lower two photos today, compared to last year. That may be due to some air coming out of the market or because the Year of the Dragon was more auspicious.