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While gold is making a comeback, the most precious of the white metals, platinum, is still a firm bridal favourite, with hallmarking volumes holding steady, as Marion Wilson, sales and marketing director, Assay Office Birmingham(BAO) explains here: Platinum hallmarkO ring Platinum is still a newcomer to the centuries old UK hallmarking system, having required an independent hallmark only since 1975. The new metal option made a very slow entry into the market, taking until 1985 to exceed just 20 hallmarked units per year and remaining at between 8,000 to 10,000 for another decade until 1994. Since then platinum has been successfully marketed as the ultimate precious metal, particularly for the bridal market. Emphasis on its rarity has built valuable status, and jewellery sales have proved relatively resilient during the financial turmoil since 2008. platinumsymbol2 Platinum’s performance was undoubtedly assisted by the fashion trend for white metal, and the continued marketing activity of the Platinum Guild. It was also supported by the reduced differential between the price of platinum or white gold. Until 2008 platinum prices were around twice that of gold which, added to the higher fineness – 950 parts per thousand for platinum versus 750 parts per thousand for 18 carat white gold – made it a significantly more expensive option. The leap in gold prices from 2008 onwards saw this gap narrow and the price of fine gold eventually exceeded that of platinum during 2011. However, it is not all about price. Platinum has the benefit of being significantly whiter than white gold alloys; the perfect setting for a high quality diamond. It does not need plating to enhance it, so customer satisfaction issues with regard to plating wearing off to reveal a duller metal underneath, which are often a problem with white gold, do not apply. The chemical composition and structure of platinum means that platinum alloys do not tarnish and all these long-term wearability factors add to its appeal. Platinum continues to be the bridal metal of choice – 257,000 platinum articles were hallmarked in the UK in 2013. This represents a 29 per cent drop in the 10 years since 2004, compared with a massive 83 per cent drop in all gold volumes from 24.5m million to 4.1m over the same period. Hallmarked platinum units in the first half of 2014 show a 1.5 per cent increase against the same period of last year, showing that the white metal is holding its ground despite the resurgence of gold as the price drops. Platinum trends from forecasting agency WGSN The three key directions are: • Luxury Archeology – emphasising craftsmanship, production skills, natural textures and refinement. Interlocking, loops, delicate stone-set rings, cut-away effects. • Sublime Nature – influences from the vitality and life from the natural world, particularly the forms of plants and flowers. Garlands, plays on scale and proportion, fluid shapes and curves • Digital fantasy – skewed shapes and geometric forms inspired by virtual reality and iPhones. Simplicity, graphic lines, mirror-like finishes unisex pieces. !

Palladium potential

It may have taken a little while to take off, but palladium (part of the platinum group of elements, discovered in 1803 and named after the asteroid Pallas) is beginning to gain a little ground within the jewellery trade.

palladium Extract from The Jeweller - October 2014

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