Gold Dealer Statistics


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Gold Dealer Statistics

Gold is a soft, malleable metal that humans have extracted, manipulated, traded and repurposed for an estimated 6,500 years. 

Archaeologists believe that the earliest gold objects were decorative, and jewelry design continues to be gold’s primary application today. But the human relationship with gold has evolved significantly throughout history, and the lustrous metal is now also used in electronics, aerospace engineering, dentistry, ophthalmology, oncology and many other fields of medicine. 

Aside from its productive qualities, gold bullion — i.e., bars and coins that are 99.5% to 99.99% pure gold — is also used as a store of value and a hedge against inflation. Gold’s price has increased by about 284% in the past 25 years, which is more than three times the rate of inflation during that period, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

This versatility makes gold a highly popular commodity, albeit one with a complex path into the market. 

Key Insights

  • China mines more gold annually than any other country, though its remaining gold reserves are dwarfed by the reserves in countries like Australia and Russia.
  • Recycled gold made up nearly two-fifths of the world’s gold supply in 2010, but that share has dropped to about one-fourth in 2023. 
  • There are hundreds of gold bullion dealers and nearly 61,900 jewelers in the U.S. alone.
  • Investors aged 25 to 34 years old are more likely to own gold bullion than investors in other age groups.

Gold Supply and Demand

Gold is a nonrenewable resource. It may be supplied for human use by mining gold reserves, which are the portions of unextracted gold that are economically feasible and legally permissible to extract. Gold that has already been mined and processed may also be recycled. 
It’s estimated that about 212,582 tons of gold have been mined throughout history and that at least 59,000 tons of unextracted reserve gold remain underground. In 2023, mined gold made up about 75% of the global gold supply, while recycled gold made up about 25%.

Gold Supply

China has been the largest gold miner in the world since 2007, and in 2023, its gold mining made up about 12% of global output. China’s remaining gold reserves, however, are dwindling, and the combined gold reserves of just three countries — Australia, Russia and South Africa — now make up over 47% of global gold reserves.

Gold reserves may increase if additional deposits of accessible gold are discovered or new technologies are developed that facilitate the extraction of known but inaccessible deposits. Barring those developments, global gold reserves will be exhausted by the year 2043 if current global extraction rates continue. At that point, the world will rely on recycling for its gold supply.

Recycled gold’s share of total gold supply has been low in recent years relative to its share during the early 2010s. Recycled gold made up nearly 38% of the world’s gold supply in 2010 but only about 25% of the world’s gold supply in 2023.

Gold Demand

The oldest known gold artifact, a bead, was found in what is now Bulgaria and dated to between 4,500 and 4,600 B.C. Gold has decorative, technological and economic applications in today’s market, though demand for gold across those market sectors is highly uneven and can vary significantly from year to year.

The outbreak of COVID-19 led to a substantial year-over-year decline in gold demand in 2020. This reduced demand overall was driven by a nearly 40% drop in demand from gold jewelry manufacturers, whose industry shrank amid the era’s economic uncertainty. Overall demand was, however, somewhat counterbalanced by increased interest from individual investors, who tend to gravitate toward gold during recessions.

Who Buys Gold?

Gold jewelry dominates global gold consumption. According to research company GWI, 56% of fashion and jewelry customers are women, and a 35% plurality are between the ages of 25 and 34 years old.

A 2020 survey by the investment education site Gold IRA Guide revealed that, among 1,500 adult American survey respondents, 10.8% owned gold bullion coins or bars. The survey’s results indicate that the likelihood of investing in precious metals varies by age and gender. Notable findings from the study included the following:

  • An investor who owns either gold or silver is most likely to be a man aged 18 to 34 (25.5%).
  • An investor who owns both gold and silver is most likely to be a man aged 25 to 34 (10.9%).
  • An investor who owns neither gold nor silver is most likely to be a woman aged 45 to 54 (89%).
  • An investor who owns gold but not silver is most likely to be a woman aged 25 to 34 (5.8%).

Though some investors are more likely to own gold than others based on their gender and age, gold generally doesn’t occupy a significant portion of the average investor’s portfolio. Alternative investments, including precious metals, only make up about 3% to 4% of most Americans’ total investments, according to an October 2023 study by the financial services company Empower.

Who Deals Gold?

Gold dealers may sell gold directly to consumers, or they may serve as wholesalers by providing gold to jewelers, refineries or retailers of gold bullion. This diverse market makes it difficult to precisely determine how many gold dealers there are in the U.S. 

According to the research firm IBISWorld, there were 61,892 jewelry stores in the U.S. in 2023. The number of jewelers in the U.S. has declined an average of 2.4% annually since 2018. 

While the U.S. Mint does offer a state-by-state list of about 300 bullion coin dealers, the list isn’t exhaustive, as it may exclude dealers that offer gold bars rather than coins.

Choosing a Gold Dealer

Those who are interested in purchasing gold bullion as investors should compare multiple dealers and consider how each dealer’s services match their investment goals, storage preferences and budget. 

If you’re interested in the tax advantages associated with holding your gold in a self-directed individual retirement account (IRA), you can narrow down the selection of dealers to those that offer gold IRAs. A dealer may help its clients establish a new self-directed IRA or roll over existing retirement funds

It’s also important to consider how you want your gold to be stored. Some dealers expect clients to store their gold independently, while others provide clients with secure storage. Fees for storage and other ongoing services, like account management, can vary. A dealer may also charge one-time fees for account setup or bullion shipping. 

Finally, reading reviews of different gold dealers can provide a glimpse into current and past customers’ experiences with the dealer’s service representatives, speed of service and shipping process.

Should I Invest In Gold?

A moderate amount of exposure to gold and other precious metals can help diversify your portfolio and soften the financial blow when other industries you’re invested in, like energy or real estate, are performing poorly. 

But gold’s value can vacillate significantly within relatively short periods of time. Overexposure to gold can leave you vulnerable to its unpredictable price fluctuations.

Gold Price Projections

A wide range of factors cause the price of gold to fluctuate. Gold’s value tends to increase or decrease as recessions begin and end, the U.S. dollar fluctuates in value, and geopolitical developments destabilize or stabilize markets. But it’s unrealistic for the average investor to anticipate these variables. To that point, consider the following:

  • Experienced economists often fail to foresee economic downturns. For example, the median economic forecaster in the Survey of Professional Forecasters anticipated that U.S. gross domestic product would grow by 2.5% in 2001. But this expectation was foiled by a recession.
  • Intelligence agencies often fail to foresee or prevent consequential geopolitical turns. U.S. and Israeli intelligence bodies did not anticipate the magnitude of the Oct. 7, 2023, Hamas attack on Israel. The ongoing war and its regional spillover have contributed to a nearly 19% increase in the price of gold from Oct. 2, 2023, to March 4, 2024. A ceasefire may cause the price of gold to dip again, but it’s unclear when that might occur and for how long the calm will be restored.

Although macroeconomic and geopolitical eventualities are generally fickle, one outcome of the gold market seems certain: We can’t continue to mine gold forever. New gold discoveries have gradually grown scarcer over the past few decades, and dwindling reserves may soon shift the bulk of supply from mined to recycled gold. 

Rather than trying to time the market, gold investors might consider holding onto their physical gold until demand significantly outgrows supply. Those who own gold securities may also consider rebalancing their holdings in favor of companies that refine rather than mine gold.

How Can I Invest In Gold?

There are a number of ways to invest in gold, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Explore a few of the most common gold investments below.

Physical Gold

You can get direct exposure to gold by buying gold coins or bars from gold dealers or private collectors. A seller will, however, charge a premium in addition to gold’s spot price, and storing gold with a dealer or other third-party service may also entail ongoing storage and management fees.

By holding physical gold in a self-directed IRA, you can either deduct contributions from your taxes (in the case of a traditional IRA) or avoid paying taxes on your withdrawals (in the case of a Roth IRA).

Keep in mind that physical gold investments are subject to a different level of scrutiny than traditional investments. Dealers that sell and deliver gold to their customers within 28 days of purchase don’t need to register with securities regulators, and precious metal investments aren’t covered by the Securities Investor Protection Corporation. Further, the U.S. government does not provide a list of approved precious metals dealers, increasing the onus of due diligence on investors.

Gold ETFs

Gold exchange-traded funds (ETFs) may either track the price of gold or hold a basket of different gold-related securities. Buying gold ETF shares allows you to invest in gold without buying physical gold. And unlike buying stock in one gold mining company, buying shares of a diversified ETF can mitigate the risk associated with an individual gold company’s underperformance.

However, an ETF’s issuer will charge management fees (called “expense ratios”) that cut into the ETF’s returns.


Who is the most reputable gold dealer?

Orion Metal Exchange is the most reputable gold dealer, according to our readers. It has dozens of five-star reviews, with repeated praise for its knowledgeable customer service, simple transaction process and low fees.

Where can I sell gold?

Gold is a relatively liquid asset, and there are a number of ways to sell your gold. Typically, the fastest way to sell gold is to approach a local brick-and-mortar gold dealer or pawnbroker. However, these buyers may not pay prices that are competitive with nationally active gold dealers, like APMEX, which will buy gold bullion from private investors via UPS shipment. Alternatively, you can sell gold via an online auction platform like Invaluable or via eBay’s Buyback Program.

How much will I get if I sell my gold?

A dealer may pay at or just above gold’s spot price for your gold bullion. If you sell gold jewelry, expect to get about 70% or so of its market value.


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