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Artisanal Gold Mining Consumer Market Research

The study reveals consumers know little about the source of the gold in their jewelry.

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(PRESS RELEASE) MVI Marketing LLC (THE MVEye) benchmark gold study reveals consumers know little about the source of the gold in their jewelry. There is great opportunity for the jewelry industry to increase transparency in the gold supply chain.

Knowing the origin of their gold is important to 51% of respondents: 20% do base their purchase decision on this knowledge, while 31% say they’d like to know, and it may impact their decision. Of the 21% who said they do not consider it, 26% were women and 9% were men.

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One of the expected findings in the study was that artisanal mining is not well understood by respondents. Less than 20% were aware of the term artisanal mining.
Of this group, only 1/3 correctly described artisanal gold as gold from individual or small-scale miners. 24% said it was gold mined by hand in impoverished areas (correct in some circumstances), but almost as many (23%) said it was gold jewelry made by an artist.

However once educated, they are likely to spend more on products made with artisanal and small-scale – ASM Certified Responsible Gold. A third of respondents (33%) would pay between 5-10% more for ASM Certified Responsible Gold but 41% would be willing to pay 11% or more.

However, once challenged, 44% of respondents admitted that if they found jewelry they liked that was not ASM Certified Responsible Gold, they would still buy it.

Gender was an interesting factor in the research findings. Men were more likely to read details about the products and expressed more interest in the origin and environmental topics than women.

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Age seems to play a minor factor in consumers’ receptiveness to ASM Certified Responsible Gold. Almost 50% of younger respondents (ages 25-35) would choose ASM Certified Responsible Gold, while 42% of those ages 36-50 would make the same choice. Younger generations also consider the origin and environmental issues more than older respondents.

Respondents were asked to identify the issues that face large conglomerates as well as artisanal and small-scale miners. Over 60% of respondents understood dangerous working conditions as a top issue for both groups. Human rights abuses and local poverty around the mine site were also seen as important issues for artisanal and small- scale miners.

Most respondents recognize that mercury (commonly used in artisanal and small-scale gold mining) can have toxic effects on the nervous system and cause brain damage. About 1/3rd of respondents recognize that mercury is a pollutant (34%) and that it is most detrimental to fetuses (32%). However, 9% of respondents mistakenly think that mercury is safe to handle.

Respondents ranked which jewelry they were most likely to purchase with 45% of respondents saying they would purchase, or request jewelry made with ASM Certified Responsible Gold. Respondents would also purchase, or request jewelry made with recycled gold (25%) and jewelry made with gold from industrial-scale mining conglomerates (13%). 12% were unsure.

Consumers rank design as the most important criteria when buying fine jewelry. Consumers rank price as the #2 most important criteria and the metal it’s made with as #3.

In fact, metal is “extremely important” to 65% of the men in the study and 55% of the women, and “somewhat important” to 30% of men and 37% of women.

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In terms of the favorite jewelry metal, 59% of women and 50% of men chose white gold when buying for themselves. Yellow gold was the second preferred metal with 35% of women and 48% of men choosing yellow gold when buying for themselves.

Diamonds set in gold is cited as the type of fine jewelry most purchased in the past 3 years for 55% of both men and women in the study, followed by diamonds in sterling silver (men 46%, women 41%). All karat gold (jewelry made with only gold, not including diamonds or gemstones) was the favorite of 50% of the men.

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