Young Chinese are Grabbing Up Gold

Young Chinese are Grabbing Up Gold as Both Jewelry and an Investment

Cute new designs and rising gold prices are drawing millennials and Gen Zers to the metal

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4 days ago 1 mins read

Picture a crowded Chinese gold market decorated with festive reds and blinding gold. What kind of customers did you imagine? Aunties in their 40s and 50s? Indeed, up until recently they might have swamped the market. After all, younger generations have more daring taste in jewelry and aren’t tied to traditional investments, right?

All that changed this spring. Older Gen-Zs and younger millennials have started to comprise a significant portion of consumers at major Chinese gold stores. An investigation by Shenzhen Economic Daily found that young people accounted for nearly 70% of customers at two stores for major gold brands in the city of Huizhou.

On the one hand, this shift might be driven by new designs from renowned gold brands like Chow Sang Sang. Cute, intricate designs differing from the bold, weighty jewelry of the past have captured the hearts of young consumers. Chinese influencers have been sharing collections of cute gold bracelet charms in the shape of Chinese Zodiacs, cartoon characters, and video game characters on the Instagram-like social media platform Xiaohongshu. More playful designs like charms for Apple Watch bands and a gold necklace proposal box — which actually holds a diamond — have also gained popularity.

Gold Apple Watch Band

Gold charms for an Apple Watch band. Image via Xiaohongshu.

On the other hand, this trend may reflect a sense of “refined frugality” that young Chinese have adopted amidst an unstable economy. Millennials and Gen Zers with some disposable income are taking the steady annual rise in gold prices as a sign to invest in the precious metal. They can hit two birds with one stone by buying stylish luxuries while also potentially making a valuable investment.

One of the most popular investment methods is purchasing gold beans — tiny gold ingots sometimes shaped in cute designs like fishes.

Gold beans

A collection of gold beans shared by an influencer. Image via Xiaohongshu.

Some recent graduates who have just joined the workforce are attempting to get the most out of their hard-earned salaries. Each month, they’ll purchase several gold beans for around 600 RMB (around 84 USD), collecting them in tiny jars. Once these jars fill up, they visit a gold store to either sell the beans at a profit, or craft them into a piece of jewelry.

In reaction to this trend, netizens have joked that this Chinese generation is “buying gold instead of investing in real estate.” Experts have also cautioned that gold beans and jewelry may be riskier investments than other gold products, as crafting gold into jewelry may reduce its value, and items sold by less respected brands may be of lower quality.

Despite these potential issues, it seems some young Chinese are hooked on gold for the moment. Whether or not their purchases pay dividends in the future, they’re currently very happy to watch gold beans piling up in a jar.

Banner image via Xiaohongshu.

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