Platinum Status

You need only look to the major red carpet events to see the metal of choice for Hollywood A-listers is platinum! At this year’s Primetime Emmy Awards Sept. 20, the biggest standouts wore platinum set with a variety of gems from diamonds, rubies and pearls to onyx and citrine.

Platinum boasts a great back-story—forever and pure, timeless yet modern. A naturally white metal that will never change color or lose its brilliant luster. It’s one of the purest precious metals, typically 95%, and its density makes it highly durable. Platinum is the most secure setting for the most important gems. It’s for all these reasons and more, that platinum is a favorite pick for the best dressed on the red carpet, as well as a top choice/aspiration for many brides-to-be.

The market is strong for platinum, as U.S. jewelry sales for this precious metal rose for the second consecutive year, a trend expected to continue through 2015, cites the Platinum Guild International’s second annual Retail Barometer. U.S. platinum jewelry sales rose 8% in volume in 2014, following an 11% year-over-year increase in 2013.

Demand for platinum jewelry is expected to remain robust, growing more rapidly than the projected growth rate of total jewelry demand, citing outlook for all jewelry sales up 3% this year, with platinum jewelry up 7%, reported PGI. Economic growth this year is expected to be modest with unemployment declining and further improvement of the consumer wealth factor.

The continued introduction of platinum jewelry at lower retail price points has also boosted sales. “This complements a broad trend that has characterized jewelry demand for the past three years,” cited PGI. “Shoppers want to buy jewelry, but they’re shopping for goods at lower price points. With platinum prices roughly on par with gold, consumers are opting for this metal for jewelry, rather than traditional karat gold or plated gold jewelry.” In 2014, the average price for platinum was $1,386 per ounce, compared to gold’s $1,266 per ounce. Platinum jewelry can be purchased for nearly the same price as similar white gold jewelry.

Also contributing to solid sales gains is increased marketing by PGI and brand partners. Moreover, the strong stock market has helped the high-end, and platinum jewelry overall continues to benefit from a bridal emphasis, with increased demand from millennial consumers seeking unique jewelry. According to the report, since platinum isn’t mainstream in the U.S. yet, it’s viewed by this generation as different from what their friends or parents own.

Platinum Style

Platinum allows designs to be intricate and innovative in both fashion and bridal, hails Amanda Tropila, public relations coordinator for the Platinum Guild International USA. “The metal’s properties give it the capacity to be crafted into delicate shapes, hold precious stones in place securely, and can be pulled into wires to make pieces that appear almost whimsical or fluid. It’s truly a superior metal for jewelry and can be used in countless ways.”

In bridal, classic looks like solitaires and halos (twist, double and triple) continue to be popular in platinum, Tropila cites. “Platinum is also branching out to make a bigger impact in “alternative” bridal looks this year with chunky, modern, super delicate or rough/raw styles. While platinum is often perceived as more traditional, this emergence into a different style of bridal jewelry is creating a new awareness for the metal of platinum as both fashionable and accessible.”

In fashion jewelry, Tropila cites staples and milestone/hallmark jewelry popular among consumers who want their classic pieces to last and capture special moments forever. “A. Jaffe’s Map Your Moment is available in platinum and serves as heirloom pieces to commemorate the spot of a special memory.” She emphasizes that the ounce price delta between platinum and gold is marginal; therefore, resulting in a smaller price differentiation at retail. “Platinum jewelry is available in a wide variety of price points and the availability of styles at entry point (starting at $1,000) has expanded as brands continue to explore design.

Straddling the fence between bridal and fashion, stackable bands are widely popular in all metals, including platinum set with diamonds and precious gemstones. “We’re doing really well with our platinum bands,” says Phyliis Bergman, CEO of Mercury Rings, a division of Interjewel Group, New York. “The bands are great for bridal or fashion, anniversaries, and other expressions of love: you can tell a story with your bands.”

Whatever is an important piece you wear everyday should be crafted in platinum, promotes Amanda Gizzi, director of public relations and special events, Jewelers of America, New York. “Platinum is a must-metal for everyday staples like diamond stud earrings, incredible gems set in a ring, solitaire pendants and iconic charms. It’s not just about bridal.”

Platinum Tips

Bergman has been really pushing platinum this year, devoting a dozen pages to the metal in her brand catalog. The company is also marketing platinum to the consumer via the PGI Press portal, and promoting attainable platinum in brand advertising, noting that the fact that other manufacturers are now offering it has opened up this precious metal to a greater audience.

She believes the best way to promote platinum is to tell its story, otherwise jewelers are just selling stuff. “Customers are looking for something unique, not necessarily unique out-there, but unique to them,” says Bergman, who notes that platinum is a unique metal for its purity, patina, luster, durability, and rarity. “You have a four-prong diamond solitaire ring, set in platinum, that becomes the story!”

Recognized as a pioneer in the development of platinum diamond jewelry as far back as the early 20th century, A. Jaffe considers this precious metal the hallmark of its legacy. “Platinum sales have never been proportionate to the price of platinum, the metal has always maintained a consistent level of demand for us,” says Samuel Sandberg, chairman, who concurs that its attributes sell the metal.

Tropila reminds jewelers that they can’t sell what they don’t have. “Stock it! Consumers like to purchase what they can see and feel. But if you don’t carry it in store, be sure customers are aware that products are available in platinum and can be custom ordered. Not only will you have a happy customer receiving a quality item, but you’ll also increase overall profits.”