Diamonds better than silver for trading contract

Gold & Silver Exchange should heed mainland mothers' needs and offer a sparkling contract

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 07 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 07 May, 2013, 3:56am

The Chinese Gold & Silver Exchange Society with great fanfare introduced a local silver trading contract last Thursday. But despite the hoopla, the focus remains on gold and another precious commodity - diamonds.

In fact, the local bourse may want to consider diamond trading because it is now a hot item on wedding shopping lists on the mainland.

Despite its name, the 103-year-old exchange has over the past two decades offered only gold contacts and traded almost no silver at all.

Chinese Gold & Silver Exchange Society president Haywood Cheung Tak-hay wants to change that. At a ceremony last Thursday attended by several hundred gold dealers, he announced the launch of the local silver contract to trade 10kg silver bars.

Cheung is confident of strong demand for silver trading in Hong Kong as he says the metal is used by industry and mainland Chinese are major consumers.

Silver futures trading for mainland and other overseas investors will allow them to hedge risks. A very good effort, indeed.

However, gold, not silver, is on the radar of most investors. They want to know when local jewellers will resume normal supply of gold bars and jewellery that has been out of stock after many mainland mothers and brides rushed to to snap up gold jewellery for their wedding dowries?

The price looks very attractive after gold dropped 9.1 per cent on April 15, its biggest fall since 1983, to US$1,321. This marked a 30 per cent drop from the metal's peak at US$1,920 in September 2011.

A pair of dragon and phoenix gold bracelets and a set of gold rings and ear rings are consider a basic dowry. For relatives, buying gold jewellery is a simple gift to the bride who is supposed to wear all the gold jewellery received on the day of the wedding.

If a woman married at the peak of the gold price, that would make for an expensive wedding. Now, mothers and brides don't need to wait for a wedding date to be set; they can look for bargains when gold prices fall. With prices having bounced back to US$1,500, they may have wait for a while.

Gold jewellery is such an important part of the Chinese wedding culture, which goes some way towards explaining the behaviour of our dear Chinese mothers over the past two weeks. Their buying has shattered Wall Street short sellers' dreams of pushing prices down.

Silver, which is not on the wedding shopping list for the mothers or bribes, does not occupy the display windows of jewellers. Instead, diamonds are the new trend for mainlanders. Yes, as Shirley Bassey sang, "Diamonds are forever" now that the sparkling stone been added to the dowry list as a good luck sign for a wedding.

Now that diamonds are more than ever a girl's best friend, Mr Cheung may consider launching diamond contracts to meet the needs of the mainland customers.