Put the Pedal to the Metal: What’s New in Precious Metals

Silver Trends
The U.S. economy is exhibiting growth and unemployment remains at a historic low. The economic climate in the United States is positive, benefitting jewelry as a category, with increases in silver, gold and platinum sales continuing.

Key looks in silver jewelry include the use of more color, interesting links, and styles that can be layered, says Amanda Gizzi, spokesperson for Jewelers of America. “Silver is appealing to two distinct audiences: the first time jewelry buyer and the mature, self-purchasing woman.” To that end, Gloria Maccaroni, director of brand development for the Silver Promotion Service (SPS), cites trends from daring to delicate, blazingly bright to softly textured.

Neckwear and bracelets are popular, especially Boho or Cali inspired styles like Y, lariat, and bolo. Eve Chiles for Breuning in Lawrenceville, Georgia says oval, circle, square, floral, and organic forms are important in silver, lots of openwork and layered looks. Hoops are trending too, says Maccaroni, both oversized and twists on classics, and ring stacking continues, but mixing in cocktail designs set with colorful stones. Eddie Weiss for EMA Jewelry, New York City cites gems like blue topaz, white sapphire, and created opal in line motifs.

Silver is a preferred metal for men, says Jonathan Goodman Cohen, president and CEO of IB Goodman. The Newport, Kentucky based men’s jewelry manufacturer has found that the form and feel of a piece is important in creating something that tops the “I never take it off” list. “There’s more demand for consumer-friendly, affordable menswear that pays attention to handcrafted detail and silver delivers,” says Alisa Bunger, director of sales for the B88 Division of the Dallas-based Prime Art & Jewel. “Silver pairs well with leather, gold, and gem inlay for accessories men can live in.” Bracelets and dog tags are bestsellers.

Gold Trends
After years of white metal prowess in gold, yellow is seeing a resurgence in interest the past two years, says Allison Peck with Color Merchants, New York. “Customers want yellow gold. They want to show they are wearing gold, and yellow is the color that truly says gold.”

But there’s no denying rose gold has become a style staple in bridal and fashion jewelry. It has become an important color not only in fashion but also other industries like electronics and home décor, especially after Pantone declared Rose Quartz Color of the Year in 2016. Gizzi sees a love for yellow and rose gold, particularly in statement rings, gold hoops, and cuff bracelets. Gems like sapphire, emerald, aquamarine, opal, and morganite are favorites featured in colorful gold jewelry. Bunger cites bezel set stones a key trend.

Men’s jewelry is experiencing a boost in yellow gold styling. “Heavier styles in bracelets and necklaces with old link chains harkening the ‘90s in demand says Cora-Lee Colaizzi, director of marketing and catalogs and senior merchandiser Quality Gold, Fairfield, Ohio. For IB Goodman yellow gold is important in its latest Anniversary Collection featuring vintage stones from its archives like hematite, tiger’s eye, and sardonyx cameo/intaglio cuts.

Platinum Trends
Desire for platinum is high. In fact, for 80% of couples looking for wedding rings platinum is their first choice once they learn about the metal, cites the Platinum Guild International (PGI). To help jewelers introduce platinum in the conversation, PGI launched last year a campaign to inspire consumers to buy into a platinum crown. Market research shows that 94% of consumers, after hearing about platinum, opt for a platinum crown in a gold ring, with nine out of 10 willing to pay an average of $469 for it.

PGI anticipates platinum jewelry sales for 2017 will outperform its estimated increase of 5% to 7%, which Kevin Reilly, PGI-USA vice president, says is due to advantageous pricing and trade/consumer communications.

Platinum bands set with diamonds in fancy shapes are among the bestsellers for Mercury Ring , a division of Interjewel in New York. Designer Phyllis Bergman says the bands are not only popular for wedding rings, but anniversary and other gifting, with ring stacking a style staple. She hails platinum the ideal metal for everyday jewelry. Jewelers are exploring lighter weights and negative space to keep costs down, with Reilly citing 3D printed platinum, diamond-cut platinum beads on chain, and multi-functional platinum lariats as wearable, marketable styles.

Marketing Tactics

Since PGI started its “Platinum Crown” campaign, the category has seen double-digit gains in platinum sales in the U.S., says Reilly. “It takes 33 minutes to increase an engagement ring sale by 4% to 6%: three minutes to communicate the benefits of platinum and 30 minutes to set a platinum crown.” Bergman says it’s a powerful message to have platinum involved as a component in the design.

Also promoting a bridal campaign, SPS started last year marketing silver jewelry for gift giving between the couple and wedding party. “With its timeless beauty and affordable price points, silver is the go-to gift for the bridal party, and the perfect option for brides and grooms to give each other, and to wear for the wedding,” says Maccaroni, who cites silver birthstone, charms, pearl jewelry, and hair adornments; cuff links, tie tacks and lapel pins popular.

Brands are key to telling stories and building meaningful connections with customers, says Mark Hanna, chief marketing officer of the New York-based Richline Group. “Branding can help to engage Millennials, a fickle and trend-conscious cohort that many industries find difficult to attract. The Jewelry Board of Trade reported transparency and provenance as marketing opportunities to exploit.” He cites some success with the educational initiative www.MayIsGoldMonth.com, but says it will take more industry-wide collaborations for the industry to thrive.

And the “Metal” Goes to…
Go For the Gold
Going Platinum
Put the Pedal to the Metal: What’s New in Precious Metals

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