By Brecken Branstrator
Both platinum and silver sales were up last year, with analysts and retailers predicting their strong performances would continue in 2016. Pictured here is a floral sterling silver bracelet with diamond accents from Ariva ($800).
New York--Last year proved to be a positive one for platinum and silver jewelry, with surveys on both reporting strong retail sales growth and increased demand.

According to the Platinum Guild International’s annual Retail Barometer study, which is conducted by independent platinum market experts and industry analysts, platinum jewelry sales rose 10 percent (in ounces) in the United States when compared with 2014.

It marked the third consecutive year platinum sales have increased in the U.S., following an 8 percent increase in 2014 and an 11 percent increase in 2013, PGI said.

There were a number of factors contributing to the growth of platinum last year.

The lower price of platinum and its relationship to the price of gold stimulated growth. The average price of platinum, at $1,053 per ounce, was 10 percent lower than the average price of gold, which was $1,160, closing the gap between gold and platinum finished jewelry pieces at retail.

The metal prices situation also encouraged both manufacturers and retailers to increase their platinum offerings both online and in store, including an increased visibility of platinum pieces at major chains, where just a few years ago platinum was “practically non-existent,” PGI said. Now, there are more than 300 major jewelry chain stores that offer platinum in their bridal jewelry selection.

Finished platinum jewelry imports also were up by approximately 50 percent in 2015, indicating a consistent increase in demand for platinum at retail across multiple distribution channels.

PGI said that sales of platinum jewelry in the U.S. market are expected to grow between 5 and 7 percent in unit/volume terms in 2016. Demand for platinum jewelry is expected to remain “robust,” growing more than projected growth rate of overall jewelry demand.

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Meanwhile, silver sales in the United States also were strong in 2015, with average silver jewelry sales growth of 15 percent, according to a survey conducted by Jewelers of America and National Jeweler on behalf of the Silver Institute’s Silver Promotion Service.

The survey also showed that 60 percent of jewelry retailers reported increased silver sales last year. As a percentage of their overall jewelry sales, silver pieces made up, on average, 35 percent of their unit volume and 27 percent of their dollar volume.

Forty-five percent of retailers surveyed also said that silver saw the best turnover rate in 2015, with another 22 percent saying diamond jewelry had the best turnover, 17 percent said bridal and 4 percent said gold and platinum.

Silver’s strong performance last year can be attributed to a number of factors, including the fact that more than half of retailers said they had increased their silver inventory an average of 21 percent.

Most retailers surveyed, 87 percent, indicated that they feel the silver surge will continue.

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