National Jeweler Network

Market Developments

Lower-priced bridal driving platinum demand

November 12, 2013

New York--The latest report from metals refiner and distributor Johnson Matthey indicates that platinum is experiencing a recovery in the North American market due in part to an increase in sales of less expensive platinum bridal jewelry.

According to the platinum 2013 interim review released Tuesday, purchases of platinum by the North American jewelry trade are expected to rise 11 percent this year, but “offtake (in North America) remains well below pre-crisis levels.”

The report said the increase in sales of platinum bridal rings in lower price categories is due to the decline in the price of platinum.

Less than $100 currently separates the per-ounce prices of platinum and gold. According to Kitco.com, the cumulative average price of platinum year-to-date is $1,503.09 an ounce while gold is at $1,436.76. At the register, this equates to only about a 20 percent difference in price between a platinum ring and an equivalent product in 18-karat white gold, the review states.

The review also notes that demand for platinum in Europe is expected to recover to 2007 levels due to the increased use of platinum in luxury watch cases, in lieu of yellow and rose gold.

Worldwide, demand for platinum jewelry is expected to decline 1 percent in 2013 to 2.74 million ounces, with weaker demand in China offset by the increase in North America as well as in India and Europe.

Looking ahead to 2014, sales of platinum to the jewelry trade “could reach new heights,” due to further growth in the Chinese market and more potential demand in India.

This market review will be the last Johnson Matthey distributes publicly. As announced in May, beginning in 2014, the reports produced by the company’s market research team will be available to customers and research contributors only.

In addition to platinum, the report also covers palladium, a platinum group metal.

Palladium jewelry demand is expected to fall 12 percent this year to a 10-year low of 390,000 ounces.

The 2013 interim review states that palladium “has not established a substantial foothold” in any global market except for China, and jewelry there continues to lose market share.

In North America specifically, 2013 demand for palladium for jewelry purposes is expected to be flat. The metal is positioned against much less costly base metal products here and expanding its market share has proven difficult, the review states.

Still, U.S. jewelers are expected to use more palladium in white gold alloys this year, as gold jewelry sales increase due to the strengthening economy and the greater availability of inexpensive gold jewelry in lower-purity alloys.