World Gold Council said jewellery purchases in world's largest gold consumer, India rocketed by 291 per cent to 147.5 tonnes in the first quarter.

In its report named Gold Investment Digest, the WGC also said India's total consumer demand surged 698 per cent to 193.5 tonnes.

The report said India and some other countries also bene?ted from local currency appreciation, which translated into gold prices increasing at a slower rate.

Similarly, the anticipation of higher future gold prices encouraged consumers in these markets to make advance gold jewellery purchases during the ?rst quarter as the price eased from the December 2009 highs, the WGC said.

Meanwhile, gold jewellery demand in the United Arab Emirates climbed 29 percent in the first quarter, only behind global leader India.

WGC's estimate of the overall UAE jewellery demand growth was higher than what was reported by the Dubai Gold and Jewellery Group (DGJG).

According to DGJG, gold jewellery sales in Dubai soared 25 per cent in the first quarter of 2010 compared to the same period the last year.

Jewellery demand in Saudi Arabia recorded the third sharpest increase at 25 per cent, followed by Hong Kong (23 per cent) and Vietnam (20 per cent).

Chinese jewellery off-take increased by 11 per cent to breach the 100-tonne mark, reaching 105.2 tonnes as demand was lifted by the Chinese New Year holiday and strong domestic economic growth.

The WGC expects that demand for gold will be strong during 2010, driven by growing demand for jewellery in China and India as well as an increase in European and US investment in the context of continued economic instability, sovereign risk and the threat of a 'double dip' recession.

In the first quarter 2010, global jewellery demand recovered strongly compared with uncharacteristically weak year-earlier levels, rising 43 per cent to 470.7 tonnes, it said. Expressed in value terms, jewellery demand totalled $16.88 billion, 75 per cent higher than in 2009 first quarter.

With the exception of Japan, the growth was driven exclusively by non-western markets, where consumers appeared to have adjusted their price expectations in the face of a 22 per cent rise in the average US dollar gold price in 2010 first quarter relative to the same 2009 period, the WGC said.