Visitors from mainland China queued outside Hong Kong jewellery stores near the border and cleared shelves after a drop in the price of gold.

Purchases of gold jewellery picked up pace after a brutal sell-off drove down spot gold prices to their weakest in more than two years at around $1,321 ten days ago with recent recovery in the price failing to dent buyers' appetite for the metal.

Chow Tai Fook, the world's largest jewellery chain, said sales at its stores in China, Hong Kong and Macau had increased 30-40 percent in the last two weeks.

It said popular products included gold dragon and phoenix wedding bangles, floral bracelets, and necklaces, which kept its factory workers and production line staff busy keeping up with demand.

The former British colony is the centre for bullion trading in East Asia and China's main source for gold imports.

Gold, which has dropped about 15 percent this year, has been caught in a tug-of-war between physical buyers seeking bargains and wary investors cutting exposure to it on worries about central bank sales and prospects of easing inflation.

Investors were still licking their wounds after spot gold posted its biggest-ever daily loss in dollar terms two weeks ago taking many ardent gold investors and bulls by surprise.

Presented by Adam Justice