An Egyptians couple are reflected in a mirror as they look at jewelry at a gold shop in the Khan el-Khalili market in Cairo, Egypt. (AP)
Egypt has officially launched new, lower-karat gold jewellery for cheaper prices in a bid to combat the recent dramatic surge in the price of the valuable metal, minister of supply and internal trade Khaled Hanafy stated on Tuesday.
The initiative to launch Gold 14 Karat (K) in the Egyptian market has been sponsored by the Saudi-based jewellery manufacturer L’azurde.
The government officially endorsed the move Tuesday with the aim of "reducing the burden on citizens in the face of rising global gold prices," Hanafy said during a press conference.
Gold sales in Egypt have been stagnant due to skyrocketing prices that hit 67 percent since January, according to Wasfy Amin Wasef, head of the gold department at the Federation of Egyptian Chambers Of Commerce.
The new type of gold, which came onto the market 10 days ago, is available in prices almost 22 percent cheaper than gold 18K — the once-cheapest unit of gold offered on the Egyptian market.
However, whether the new line of production will appeal to Egyptian customers remains unclear.
"There is a culture among customers in Egypt and other Arab markets that sees gold lower than 18K as non-valuable jewellery," Wasef told Ahram Online.
Gold 24K, the purest possible, currently sells for approximately EGP 522, while 21K sells for EGP 457, and 18K for EGP 391.7, according to Wasef. The new 14K sells for EGP 304.6.
Karat is a unit measuring the purity of gold alloys. Pure gold is too soft to be used for jewellery, therefore gold jewellery is made from an alloy of other metals such as silver or copper.