x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Buy gold jewellery and revel in being financially astute

I find one thing to be wary of when it comes to investing in this precious metal – gold does not really have an intrinsic value.

Women look at a display of gold jewelry outside a store in the Gold Souk in Deira. Jeff Topping / The National
Women look at a display of gold jewelry outside a store in the Gold Souk in Deira. Jeff Topping / The National

If you love people watching from a cafe in a shopping mall as I do, you will have probably noticed the artistically designed gold jewellery decorating many Emirati and Khaleeji women's hands.

From Cartier's Panthere rings to stacks of branded and traditional gold bangles, cuffs, and bracelets, these beautiful items can hardly pass by unnoticed.

While these ladies are receiving the approving nod of fashion savvy individuals for following the latest accessories trends in the fashion world, most people do not realise that some of these young Khaleeji women are also following the latest global financial investment fashion on the radar - hitting two birds with one stone.

Welcome to the new Gold Rush;this time, however, it is taking place in the Gulf region.

How big is this new financial trend in the UAE? It's huge.

The price of gold just keeps rising. Every time I read that it has broken yet another record, I think to myself this is it, the bubble has to burst. The price just cannot keep on soaring, and it will fall to normal levels again. But no, it still insists upon making me hold my breath for yet another day.

At the end of 2007, an ounce of gold was US$750. But this year of political uprising was matched by a gold uprising, too. Just last Wednesday, one ounce of the metal was worth about $1,878, breaking yet again another record.

At first I thought that investors were only interested in trading in gold and precious commodities to make a profit, but running into my friend Nada, an Emirati, the other day made me realise what a huge impact this gold rush is having on young Gulf women.

Nada has switched from wearing silver friendship bracelets and fashion jewellery, to 21 carat gold bracelets and rings. What she had on was worth at least Dh20,000 (US$5,450), and she was just going out for a casual dinner. When I asked her why the sudden change, she replied: "I am a huge spender, and it's time to save some money. Investing in gold is the safest choice. That's what our grandmothers used to do during tough times.

"I don't know what the future brings. The world keeps changing every day. My money is right where I can see it, and it makes me look good too," she said.

What Nada told me and what I have read made me realise that this is the right time to go and have the ring I wanted to design ages ago finally made. I might be late, but probably not too late, as gold prices are expected to increase even more.

I headed to Abu Dhabi's Gold Souq during what is normally a sleepy summer season and found many men and women buying gold bars like there was no tomorrow. The merchants, unsurprisingly, seemed delighted with the turnout of customers, and the salesman did not seem to care, or even try to stop me when I told him I would check out other shops because his price was too high.

He already had enough customers. He didn't need me.

We all agree that investing in gold is the right thing. It is rare, and does not lose its value if you want to resell. It has been used as a currency in ancient times. You can also break it into pieces, melt it down, and sell it again.

In time of turmoil, gold is even more valuable. From the credit downgrading and debt problems in the US, to the growing financial turmoil in Europe, and the prediction of an even worse financial crisis that is expected to batter the global markets again, gold is alluring to all sorts of investors, even those who have never invested before.

Even governments have joined the crowd. After the 2008 financial downturn, central banks used gold to hedge against their foreign currency holdings. Just last month, South Korea announced it had bought gold for the first time in 10 years.

Online vintage jewellery small businesses are also making money targeting this niche audience.

During the past six months, I have received numerous follows on Twitter, and add requests on my Facebook account from recently established jewellery entrepreneurs in the UAE and Qatar, looking to sell their gold artefacts collected from across the globe.

They offer great competitive advantage such as home delivery, payment upon delivery and a return if dissatisfied service.

However, I find one thing to be wary of when it comes to investing in this precious metal - gold does not really have an intrinsic value. It does not offer an interest rate like UAE government bonds, or the chance of a dividend such as a share in a company. It merely depends on global situations and people's fear of uncertainty.

So until the US and Europe clear up their financial mess, and until there are no further political dilemmas in the region, gold will continue to rise, perhaps reaching the $3,000 an ounce barrier that some predict.

Whether it is a good time to sell gold or not, and many argue that the price is near its peak, some husbands are convincing their wives that now is the time to sell the gold jewellery worn at their weddings along with their grandmothers' gold belts and traditional spiked gold cuffs.

Manar Al Hinai, an Emirati, is a fashion designer and writer based in Abu Dhabi. She recently was named an Arab Woman of the Year.