The allure of Gold has been well documented in history. Wars have been fought and cities plundered in search of this precious commodity. And with India being one of the most ancient civilisations, gold has always played an important role in wealth creation. Gold is considered auspicious and it is also a stable investment to combat inflation. In uncertain times, investors repose their faith in gold, which is why you would notice prices rising whenever there are geopolitical tensions.
On this page, you can check for the prices of gold across different cities in India, including for the different purities of gold, whether it is for 10 gms 24-karat gold or 22-karat gold.
What can impact Gold Prices in India?
Prices of gold are comparatively a lot more stable compared to other precious metals. Gold derives its prices from its rarity and relative difficulty in mining the metal. In recent times, cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin have been compared to Gold, for their similarity in being limited resources.
- Currency exchange rates: Gold prices are sensitive to movements in foreign currency exchange rates, especially the US dollar. Most countries hold their foreign exchange reserves in dollars. India trades its gold using US dollars. If the rupee weakens against the dollar, the price of gold will go up.
- Prices of gold imports: The price of gold at the retail level is also influenced by imports, as India gets most of its gold from foreign nations. When the quantity of gold imports is higher, along with a weaker rupee, prices will rise.
- Demand and supply: Whenever there is global uncertainty, as was seen during the COVID pandemic, supply reduces and demand increases, significantly pushing up the price of gold.
- Economic stability: When there is economic or geopolitical instability, gold prices tend to rise as investors put their money in a safe haven investment like gold, considered a less risky asset compared to say the stock market or mutual funds.
- Cost of production: Another factor influencing the price of gold is production cost. India has very few of its own reserves, such as the Kolar Gold fields, which are presently almost exhausted. The more difficult it is to mine for gold, the more expensive the commodity becomes.
What accounts for the different gold prices across cities in India?
There are a number of factors that account for differential gold rates across cities in India. Here are some of them
- Different state taxes: While GST is standard across the country there are differing local cesses in states that account for a differential in prices across cities in India.
- Variance in demand: Depending on the size of the city and the population, as well as its propensity to buy gold, prices will differ. Some cities have a much higher demand for gold than others.
- Transportation costs: The ease with which gold can be imported also influences the price of this commodity. Port cities like Chennai or Mumbai would have different prices than inland cities such as Delhi or Bangalore, as air and sea transport costs vary.
- Influence of gold associations: Many places have local gold traders associations comprising jewellers, dealers and others, who have a lot of influence in the setting of gold prices. This also results in variance in prices across cities.
How is Gold measured?
One would have heard the saying: "It's worth its weight in gold!" That's precisely how valuable the metal is and that's how it is measured, by weight. The units of measure would vary from milligrams, to grams, kilograms and metric tonnes. There are also non-metric measures such as sovereign, tola, or troy ounce (1 troy ounce is 31.1034768 grams).
So what then is a karat? That's a measure of the purity of gold. It has been standardised in India and certified by "Hallmarking" of gold as a stamp of reassurance about its purity. Pure gold is considerably soft, so to make it sturdier to be carved into jewellery or other ornaments, it contains other metals such as copper. 24 karat gold is pure gold (99.9% pure), 22 karat is 91.3% pure, 18 karat is 75%, 14 karat is 58.5% and 10 karat is 41.7% pure. Gold alloy is also used in small proportions in electronics as it is a good conductor of electricity.
Investing in Gold
There are multiple ways in which one can invest in gold. You could either pick up gold in its physical form ranging from gold bars to jewellery or you could invest in virtual gold or even trade gold in the form of a fund on the exchanges or in gold bonds. Having gold as part of your portfolio is a good investment decision.
- Buying jewellery: One of the most common forms of gold investment in India is in jewellery. Traditionally, almost all families in India acquire gold jewellery assets over time. Besides the aesthetic value of gold jewellery, they are also considered a safe haven asset to tide against inflation or sudden economic adversity. The disadvantage is being able to keep it safe, which is why many individual choose to keep them in bank lockers.
- Gold exchange traded funds: If picking up physical gold isn't convenient one can always invest in exchange traded funds (ETFs). These funds are listed on the stock market and can be traded using a demat account.
- Gold bars or gold coins: Gold coins and bars are sold by some banks and jewellers as a form of investment. However, banks can only sell you the gold, but won't buy it from you. A jeweller could trade it both ways. Storing bars and coins is a concern, hence it's not always and advisable form of investment.
- Sovereign gold bonds: If buying physical gold is a problem, the government of India had issued Sovereign Gold Bonds. These are in the form of gold certificates issued by the Reserve Bank of India. These are issued against stored gold with the bank, offering you ownership on paper and is considered a relatively safer form of investment, without physically taking delivery of the gold.
- Gold mutual funds: Gold mutual funds operate similar to gold ETFs. A gold mutual fund would consist of a portfolio of gold ETFs, which diversifies your risk even further.
- Digital gold: With the advent of digital technology, it is now possible to own gold without getting physical delivery of it. There are many digital gold players offering gold that has been licenced from the three entities that can sell digital gold: MMTC PAMP, Digital Gold India (SafeGold), and Augmont Goldtech. Fintech players like Paytm and others offer this on their apps. You can purchase digital gold using digital payment methods such as UPI, Google Pay, PhonePe, Paytm or other methods.
Reasons to invest in gold
Aside from its cultural significance, investing in gold is a good choice for the following reasons:
- Provides Liquidity: One of the primary reasons people invest in gold is to ensure liquidity in the event of a financial emergency. It is one of the hard assets that can be easily sold when funds are needed. However, because the price of gold fluctuates constantly, you may not always be able to obtain the same returns.
- Hedge Against Inflation: In times of rising inflation, gold can help you overcome the financial crisis and thus act as an inflation hedge. It is because gold rates remain unaffected by inflation.
- Easy Investments: People who are new to investing may feel at ease investing in gold because the process is simple, unlike other investments such as real estate, mutual funds, and stocks.
- Wealth Creation: Gold can also be used as a symbol of wealth because it is passed down from generation to generation in many cultures as a legacy.
Gold Trading as a Commodity in India
Since gold may be traded through spot contracts or derivative contracts, investors can do so without owning any actual gold. Gold is purchased and delivered right away under spot transactions (i.e. sold and delivered right away). Gold is purchased and sold in accordance with gold futures contracts at a future date. In contrast to most other commodities, gold futures are traded at spot prices.
There are three major commodity exchanges where one can trade gold:
- Multi Commodity Exchange (MCX)
- National Commodity & Derivatives Exchange (NCDEX)
- National Spot Exchange (NSEL)
India's top commodities exchange and the best place to trade gold is MCX. Contracts traded here have excellent liquidity and give investors a choice of four distinct contract sizes:
- Gold: It is traded six months out of the year: Every alternate month beginning February up to December.
- Gold Mini: It trades from January to December every year.
- Gold Guinea: It trades from January to December every year.
- Gold Petal: It trades during the months that the exchange designates.
A Checklist For Buying Gold
- Check for purity: Most jewellers would use either 14 karat, 18 karat or 22 karat gold to make jewellery, with 14 karat being tougher, but not as precious. 24 karat gold isn't used because it is too soft. One needs to check the Hallmarking certification along with the gold jewellery.
- Weight of the gold: Most gold jewellery is sold by weight - from milligrams to grams. However, weighing a finished piece of jewellery isn't quite accurate if there are gems or other precious stones added to it such as diamonds and rubies.
- Making charges: Every jeweller will add a making charge to the price of the gold, depending on the work that has been carried out to create a piece of gold jewellery. Often, jewellers can smelt older jewellery and use the gold to make new pieces. Making charges differ by jeweller, ranging from 20% to 30%, and are separate from the prevailing gold rate displayed.
- Check invoice: Always insist on an invoice when buying gold from a jewellery store, as it will have the taxes charged included. It also serves as a proof of purchase and if you are selling your gold, you will need the original invoice to calculate the capital gains tax on your sale.
Taxes on Gold Purchases in India
Gold as a commodity has taxes levied on it. Because most gold in India is imported, it is subject to customs duty. The customs duty on gold is 10% of the total value of the gold. Furthermore, purchase-related processing fees would be taxed at 5%.
Gold sales in India are subject to the GST (Goods and Services Tax), which was implemented in 2017. The gold GST was set at 3%. As a result, the total tax payable on gold is currently 14%.
Income Tax on Gold
Any profit made from the sale of gold is subject to income tax, and both individuals and sellers are required to pay it. The profit from the sale of gold is subject to 'Capital Gains Tax,' and the following details of tax liabilities and possible exemptions are provided:
- Gold or gold jewellery purchased and sold within three years (36 months) is classified as a short-term capital asset and is taxed at the applicable rate (this is subject to change as announced by the government).
- Gold or gold jewellery purchased and sold within three years (36 months) is considered a long-term capital asset. Whether the gold was purchased, given as a gift, or received as an inheritance, it would be classified as a long-term capital asset. Taxes and other surcharges would be calculated as needed.
- If the value of the gold received as a gift is less than Rs.50,000, it is tax-free.
India and Gold Imports
India does not mine gold. In fact, unlike China, which is now the world’s largest gold miner, we were never major players in the mining of the precious metal. So, how does India obtain all of the gold? The government has designated a number of banks to bring this gold into India. In short, they have been granted permission to import gold. After they import the gold, it is given to distributors, who then sell it to the country's large retailers or jewellers. They use this as bars and coins to make the gold jewellery we wear. However, a metal element is added because pure gold will break if used in its purest form. This mixture determines whether gold is pure or impure. This is why gold is sometimes imported from abroad into India.
If you are visiting India from another country and want to bring gold with you, the following criteria must be met:
- Male passengers are not permitted to carry gold worth more than Rs. 50 thousand.
- Female passengers are not permitted to carry gold worth more than Rs. 1 lakh.
Inflation and Gold Prices
It should be noted that inflation has a significant impact on gold prices in India. For example, as inflation rises, so do interest rates. Gold prices tend to fall when interest rates rise. This is because people and investors are rushing to sell gold and buy fixed-income government securities. When investing in gold, one must exercise caution. Investors must remember that it is a natural hedge against price declines. The important thing to remember is that interest rates in the United States are what matter to the international gold markets. When these rise, gold prices in India tend to rise, which is why interest rates are so important in India.