Investment in gold bars and coins soared in the United States during the third quarter, climbing 31 percent from the year-ago period to 29 metric tons. That’s the fastest growth rate in the world. 

Global buying increased by 18 percent during the quarter, according to the World Gold Council (WGC), with demand strong in India—up 27 percent—and in Europe, where buying was up 22 percent.

“Investment remains very elevated when compared with historical norms,” declared the WGC in its quarterly market assessment.

Global gold bar and coin demand for the first three quarters of the year stands at 857 metric tons, the highest level since 2013. 

 A metric ton, the international measure used to calculate gold supply and demand, is 1,000 kilograms or 205 pounds more than the customary American ton of 2,000 pounds. 

 Driving the rising demand for physical gold were fears of inflation, as well as a price dip in August, which many investors seized upon as an opportunity to load up on bars and coins. 

As bar and gold demand increased during the quarter, buying of gold-based exchange traded funds (ETF) declined. ETF buyers tend to be far more short-term oriented than bar and coin investors. The quarterly decline may also reflect investors recognizing that a gold ETF does not confer the same level of security as holding physical gold since an ETF holder purchases shares of a fund that is backed by gold, but not physical gold itself.