Professional Jeweler Archive: Platinum: Back to Basics

August 2002

Feature


Platinum: Back to Basics

With demand down, the makers of platinum jewelry celebrate what works


In the face of a tough economy and rising platinum prices, demand for the noble metal has suffered its first setback in 10 years in the U.S., falling 100,000 ounces – a 26% drop – Johnson Matthey reports in its Platinum 2002 review.

The platinum supplier says the problem stems from the 2000 holiday season, when sales were lower than expected, causing an overstock so jewelers ordered less for 2001. Holiday 2001 sales, however, were better than expected, reports Johnson Matthey, and demand for platinum rose in the first half of 2002.

The U.S. Branch of the Platinum Guild International responded to platinum’s changed circumstances by focusing on the marriage category, says Laurie Hudson, PGI-USA president. “The bridal business is more resilient to fluctuating metals prices,” she says.

PGI is also foregoing many of its popular fashion shows at jewelry industry events, preferring to spend its dollars on advertising and promotion. “We’re redirecting show dollars to getting more customers into stores,” says Hudson. The group is also working on new training information for sales associates.

Platinum’s advertising messages remain closely tied to life’s special moments and were an unanticipated hit after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The campaign continues to be an effective lure for platinum’s target audience: the young and the romantic.

Popular Categories

Rings are a stunning success for platinum, now chosen by a solid majority of bridal couples.
But unconventional rings, bridal or not, are popular also. Accented by colored gems, sprinkled with small diamonds or elegantly simple in metal-intensive pieces, platinum rings are a symbol of enduring love and convey the cachet and durabil-ity so many consumers search for.

Hearts Beat All

In other categories, nothing stands out more than PGI’s heart pendant campaign. It takes advantage of the mania for charms and small pendants, and it allows designers to work with lighter weights and less metal to achieve attractive price points.

PGI’s successful Women With Heart campaign turned the spotlight on platinum hearts when a number of actresses and singers designed pendants. The pieces were sold at auction in February, with proceeds going to charities named by the celebrities. In addition, 14 designers created pieces in the platinum heart category last year, and PGI continues to promote the styles in advertising and public relations outreach. Other designers have created heart-shaped jewelry since then. The heart campaign also has increased interest in platinum pendants and charms in general.

Advice for Retailers

Hudson says retailers should continue to celebrate and promote platinum as the metal of choice, especially for younger buyers. A second, and related, goal is to convert platinum bridal buyers into long-term loyalists. Finally, jewelers and sales associates should continue to emphasize platinum’s cachet and never apologize for its price.

– by Lorraine O’Donnell, A.J.P.

Platinum and diamond jewelry suite by SeidenGang.

SeidenGang, Rye, NY; (800) 227-4890 or (914) 925-0788, fax (914) 925-0708, marketing@-
seidengangdesigns.com,
www.seidengangdesigns.com.

950 platinum ring is set with a 5.27-ct. tanzanite with 0.38 carat of round brilliant diamond accents. Suggested retail, $8,800.

Carol Ackerman Designs, West Hartford, CT; (860) 561-8807.

Photo by Robert Damank.

Platinum heart chain slide retails for $769. 18-in. platinum solid omega is $1,170.

Stuller, Lafayette, LA; (800) 877-7777 or (337) 262-7700, fax (800) 444-4741 or (337) 981-1655.

Platinum necklace and bracelet are set with S1 H-I diamonds. The necklace has 3.40 carats (suggested retail, $14,805) and the necklace has 2.50 carats ($8,396).

A. Jaffe, New York City; (800) 223-0553.

Five styles of fancy platinum bracelets are $2,590 to $6,455 suggested retail.

Quality Gold Inc., Fairfield, OH; (800) 354-9833.

950 platinum and 18k green gold ring is $1,600 suggested retail.

Glen J. Engelbrecht for G.J. Designs, Sarasota, FL; (941) 951-6658, fax (941) 365-2577.

Three diamonds – two half-moon and a princess cut – set in platinum comprise this heart.

Bulgari/Platinum Guild International Italia, Italy; (390) 278-1342, fax (390) 278-2001, pgiita@tin.it.

950 platinum Jazz ring is set with a 0.56-ct. pink sapphire and a 0.36-ct. natural fancy yellow diamond. The central tension set link jiggles in the shank. U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,084,108 and 5,188,679.

Steven Kretchmer, Palenville, NY; (518) 678-0304, fax (518) 678-0307.

Photo by Robert Weldon.

Platinum baby shoes hang from a platinum safety pin. All are accented with diamonds. Suggested retail, $2,800 each.

Aaron Basha, New York City; (212) 935-1960.

Classic domed and milgrained wedding bands from 2.5mm to 10mm wide are available with or without comfort fit.

Guertin Bros., Roanoke, VA; (800) 225-3141, fax (540) 362-2160, sales@guertinbrothers.com, www.guertinbrothers.com.

Copyright © 2002 by Bond Communications