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June 2002

While overall platinum sales increased during 2001, platinum jewelry sales were down almost across the board.

After a decade of expansive growth, platinum has experienced two consecutive years of decline in platinum jewelry demand, according to a report by Johnson & Matthey.

Worldwide consumption of platinum jewelry fell 10 percent to 2.55 million ounces.

Hurt by a declining international luxury market in 2001, platinum jewelry fell in nearly all regions except China, which has traditionally embraced the white-metal look of platinum jewelry. Chinese consumers demand for platinum jewelry increased 18 percent during 2001.

The United States and Japanese markets, meanwhile, which had driven the fashion craze for platinum jewelry during the late 1990s, fell victim to economic slowdown last year. Demand for platinum jewelry were, therefore, down 33 percent and 26 percent, respectively.

With the price of platinum up to as much as $650 per ounce, and the economy slipping, the taste for white metals was channeled into white gold and sterling silver, sales of which were up, for example, at Tiffany last year.

Platinum does, however, remain the metal of choice for diamond engagement rings. During the 1990s’ marketing push for platinum jewelry, the focus was on the bridal category. Especially for pieces priced $5,000 and up, brides still prefer a platinum setting for their diamond rings.

However, even platinum’s stronghold on the bridal market around the world could not help boost platinum jewelry demand. In Japan, for example, sales of engagement rings and wedding rings also fell as the number of marriages dropped compared to 2000—the Millennium year.

Finally, platinum’s two year decline coincides with a strong fashion trend toward yellow gold.

Platinum Jewelry Demand

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