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Platinum Jewelry Investment Gained Big Market Share

1990s: Platinum Jewelry Demand in U.S. Platinum Jewelry Markets

June 1998

Demand for platinum in jewelry rose worldwide by 170,000 oz. to 2.16 million oz. in 1997, according to an annual report from Johnson Matthey. The report attributed the increased demand to the growth in popularity of white metals in major markets, including the U.S., China. Demand, however fell in recession-racked Japan.

In the U.S., fabrication of platinum jewelry increased by more than 75% in 1997, with a further mainstreaming of the metal evidenced by its introduction into the lines of large retail chains as well as television shopping networks.

The Chinese market also saw dramatic growth, with fabrication levels almost doubling in 1997. Johnson Matthey reports that "young consumers [in China] have developed a liking for platinum jewelry, which is regarded as elegant and sophisticated in comparison with the simple, heavy gold items purchased by their parent’s generation." The report notes that growing demand has stimulated investment by existing manufacturers and attracted new ones, especially in southern China, where Hong Kong entrepreneurs have set up jewelry factories.

In Japan, demand for platinum in jewelry dropped 6% to 1.39 million oz. Banks and trading houses reduced credit lines, causing some manufacturers difficulties in financing and triggering a number of bankruptcies. A sharp increase in platinum prices and borrowing costs exacerbated the situation, but those strong enough to withstand the credit squeeze used the opportunity to gain market share.


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