The Platinum Opportunity

June 1998

For Your Staff:Selling Platinum

The Platinum Opportunity

White is white, until you demonstrate for customers how platinum, white gold and sterling vary

by Caroline Stanley
Manager of Communications Platinum Guild International-USA

Today's consumers actively seek platinum jewelry. In 1997 alone, the platinum jewelry market grew almost 60%. For retailers who know how to sell platinum, this trend can be a bottom line bonanza. You may see two types of platinum jewelry customers:

  1. The person who asks specificially for platinum. Perhaps this customer appreciates that platinum is rare and precious. Perhaps she's guided by platinum's connection to the past, before it was declared a strategic metal and taken off the jewelry market during the war effort early in this century.
  2. The person who asks for something new and different. She may want jewelry that no one else in her circle wears. Or she may want modern, cutting-edge designs.

Both customers associate platinum with prestige and fashion and may be eager to ride the current wave of interest in white metals. But they may be uncertain about the differences among platinum, white gold and sterling silver. Place a similarly styled ring of each metal side by side and help them understand and appreciate each metal's intrinsic characteristics.

Platinum Characteristics

  • Naturally white and very rare.
  • Hypoallergenic and durable.
  • Heavy, dense metal (new designs that weigh and cost less but retain platinum's intrinsic characteristics are appearing on the market.)
  • No plating required to maintain its natural white color.
  • High purity (most platinum jewelry made in the U.S. is 95% or 90% pure).
  • Usually more expensive but more prestigious than other metals.
  • Less familiar to retail bench jewelers and customers.

White Gold Characteristics

  • Begins naturally yellow. It must be alloyed with other metals to make it white; it's usually rhodium-plated to mask the slight yellow tone.
  • Usually the same price as yellow gold.
  • A familiar metal to most bench jewelers and consumers.
  • Usually harder than yellow gold, and the whiteness accents diamonds.
  • Can tarnish.
  • A lighter weight metal for some jewelry (such as earrings), which in turn carries lower price points.

Sterling Silver Characteristics

  • Abundant supply.
  • Lower price points.
  • Softer metal that can scratch.
  • Lighter weight metal.
  • Will tarnish unless chemically prevented from doing so.
  • Doesn't wear as well.

5 Important Do's and Don'ts of Selling Platinum


  1. Do sell platinum's higher price as a positive attribute. Consumers are prepared for the fact that platinum costs more, so use this to your advantage by explaining platinum's value.
  2. Do hand your customer a piece of platinum jewelry. The weight is the easiest way to see the difference.
  3. Do sell platinum's features, then follow with its benefits. Explain how platinum's characteristics will benefit the customer.
  4. Do use platinum to set yourself apart from competitors. Not everyone carries platinum - yet!
  5. Do keep a good selection. Customers like a choice no matter what they buy.


  1. Don't be afraid to sell your customer up. Price may not be a deciding factor.
  2. Don't group your platinum jewelry with your other white metals without differentiating each one. Give each metal its own spot so customers see the difference.
  3. Don't assume your customer knows the difference between platinum and other white metals.
  4. Don't underestimate your customer. If he or she asks for platinum, show platinum - most platinum customers don't want just any white metal.
  5. Call PGI at (714) 760-8279 if you need help. From tags and signs to training, we can help you to sell more platinum.


Stanley is a third-generation jeweler who grew up on the sales floor. She is a past-president of the Arkansas Jewelers Association and the Southwest Guild of the American Gem Society. At PGI, she travels across the U.S training retailers and manages a variety of projects.

Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.


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