Consumers take to platinum jewellery in a big way

Mumbai, May 17 | Updated: May 19 2006, 05:57am hrs
Fashion-conscious women in the big cities of India, the worlds top gold consumer, are starting to fall for platinum. What heartens us is that platinum jewellery is getting more and more acceptable to Indian consumers, said Vaishali Banerjee, India manager of industry body Platinum Guild International.

They are willing to try out newer looks and experiment with designs. A jump in the number of platinum jewellery retailers to 350 from just a dozen six years ago showed consumers were appreciating the value of platinum, she said.

The reach of platinum had grown to 60 cities from two, but no official demand figures were available. Global platinum demand rose to 6.7 million ounces in 2005, up 2.5% from the previous year.

Women are even buying bridal rings, Ms Banerjee said. Wedding rings other than gold are rare in India, a country of more than a billion people who traditionally give gold jewellery as wedding presents, a large portion of which is often handed down through the generations.

Gold has been a form of saving for centuries. Indians consume about 800 tonne of gold each year, of which more than two-thirds are in the form of jewellery. Ms Banerjee said people were now asking for a greater variety of platinum products, not just jewellery. We are as yet a nascent market for platinum. But if present trends are anything to go by, then the future is promising.

During the recent Hindu festival of Akshaya Trithiya, when consumers buy precious products, jewellers stocked deity-inscribed platinum coins, medallions and pendants with prices as low as Rs 2,500 ($55).

The response was overwhelming and retailers are bound to pursue this business opportunity next year too, Ms Banerjee said. This is an indication that people are accepting the naturally white precious metal as a good store of value.