Global gold demand fell last year for the first time since 2009 as jewellery buying abated in the key Indian and Chinese markets and US and European coin and bar investment dropped, the World Gold Council said on Thursday.
While gold consumption is expected to stabilise this year, it may be some time before it revisits record levels seen in the depths of the financial crisis, the WGC said.
"It's hard to see a major move up in demand (this year)," the WGC's MD for investment, Marcus Grubb, said.
"Demand will remain high, but we're talking small single-digit numbers in terms of growth from the current tonnage level."
"The tonnage last year was 4,405 tonnes for consumer demand, and if you add in over-the-counter demand, it's another 100 tonnes higher," he said. "We would expect 2013 to be quite similar to that."
Grubb said he sees gold prices, which have traded between $1,625-$1,695 an ounce this year, staying within their current trading range, although potentially market-destabilising events such as upcoming US budget talks could push them higher.
Gold is down 1.4% this year after posting its biggest quarterly drop since 2008 in the last three months of 2012.