Home shoppers start a gold rush

BY LUCY ROBERTS

Gold as an investment may have lost its shine, but armchair shoppers are pushing up demand for gold jewellery as insomniacs and channel-surfers make the most of new television home-shopping channels.

QVC, the home shopping service launched in 1993, says more than a third of its live 17 hours of transmission in Britain is dedicated to the sale of jewellery. Buying trinkets the television way became so popular that the station developed its own simulated gem stone - Diamonique, set in 14 carat gold and silver.

With prices starting at pounds 12, QVC UK can rack up big sales. Although it does not separate its sales figures, the station took 9,000 orders on one day at the end of last month. You can be sure that more than 40 per cent of these sales will probably have been jewellery and not Hoovers.

In the US, television sales through the two big home shopping services - QVC and the Home Shopping Network - now add up to half a billion dollars of jewellery and watches a year. Television and electronic home shopping accounts for some 28 tonnes of gold per year.

So great is the appeal of all that glitters to the home shopper that US-based Factory Sales Associates has announced its intention to conquer the huge Russian market. It aims to capitalise on the novelty of the convenience of home shopping in ex-Communist states to sell watches and jewellery on television.

Television is proving influential in other ways. In Saudi Arabia, the biggest manufacturing centre for jewellery in the Middle East, the popularity of a children's television cartoon series based on the Ninja Turtle characters has pushed gold sales up by three tonnes in the first three months of this year. While the children decide which solid gold hero turtle to add to their playroom collection, their mother can also buy a few necklaces and rings for herself.

The US, which remains the largest developed consumer market for gold jewellery, showed a steady increase in demand of 8-9 per cent in the first quarter of this year. The well- known US discount chain Wal-Mart is the largest single retailer of jewellery. Although jewellery only accounts for 2 per cent of sales at the moment, Wal-Mart intends to roll out more jewellery to its stores to capitalise on the gold consumer rush.

But before long, China is likely to challenge the dominance of the US market. Accurate figures are hard to come by at the moment and the country is still many years away from being driven by the home-shopping phenomenon, but a halving in the consumption tax on gold jewellery at the start of this year has boosted sales. A survey in 1994 showed that 39 per cent of urban residents now own gold ornaments.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Guru Careers: Stockbroker

£Basic (OTE) + Uncapped Commission: Guru Careers: A Stockbroker (qualified / p...

Recruitment Genius: Financial Adviser

£20000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you recently QCA Level 4 qu...

SThree: Graduate Recruitment Resourcer

£20000 - £22500 per annum + OTE £30K: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

Guru Careers: Application Support Analyst / 1st Line Support

£25 - 30k: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Application Support Analyst / 1st L...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence