Platinum Jewelry: The White Stuff



Five reasons why the metal’s the smart choice for you and your customers

Platinum, the rarest of the precious metals, has no shortage of fans among retailers and consumers alike. But a periodic refresher course on the metal’s chief selling points never hurts. Here’s what the experts have to say about the best ways to position platinum jewelry to score sales today.

It’s (consistently) a good value. While platinum is more durable and rarer than gold, the latter is a haven for ­investors. However, those very attributes—durability and rarity—“represent a good value,” says Jurgen Maerz, a technical expert/consultant in Hawkins, Texas. What’s more, though many buyers consider platinum the “expensive metal,” now that gold and platinum are trading around the same price, “people aren’t defaulting to the less-expensive metal in their decision-making process,” says Michael O’Connor, president of New York City–based Style & Substance Inc.

If offered first, with inventory in hand, its chances of selling increase dramatically. It’s a no-brainer: Platinum jewelry is easier to sell when your shelves are stocked. “People want immediate gratification, walking away with items in hand,” says O’Connor. Be sure employees articulate platinum’s features and benefits, then simply present it to shoppers. “Even having a 25 percent minimum inventory level significantly increases the likelihood of a sale,” says Huw Daniel, president of PGI-USA, also based in New York City.

PGI research shows that since many associates lead engagement ring sales presentations with diamonds instead of mountings—even though mountings offer larger margin opportunities—there’s less money left for settings. When staffers persuade shoppers to buy the biggest diamond they can afford, customers “often settle for a more simple setting,” says Kevin Reilly, director of business development for PGI-USA. He advises retailers to get clients to fall in love with more profitable platinum settings first.

There’s a wide selection of entry-level pieces available. Platinum jewelry options—particularly in the entry-level category, where engagement rings retail for $2,500 or less and fashion items for $3,500 or less—are abundant, thanks largely to PGI’s Platinum Innovation Awards. The contest, now in its third year, encourages ­jewelers to create new platinum pieces across seven categories: engagement rings, entry engagement rings, wedding bands, men’s ­jewelry, entry fashion jewelry, red carpet jewelry, and colored gemstone jewelry. “That design contest helped put the entry-level category on the map,” says Maerz.

Its natural white color will stay white forever. PGI’s research reveals this is the most interesting fact about platinum for Millennials. “Specifically, that unlike white gold, platinum is naturally white,” says Daniel. “That means that platinum will never fade or change color, ­making it the perfect symbol of a relationship that lasts.”

7.5 mm platinum Revolver ring; $3,290; Benchmark, Tuscaloosa, Ala.; 205-345-0555; benchmarkrings.com Platinum mounting with diamond-set band; price on request; A. Jaffe, New York City; 212-447-7061; ajaffe.com
Platinum semimount with 0.20 ct. t.w. round diamonds; $2,495; Uneek Jewelry, Los Angeles; 213-622-5119; uneekjewelry.com Platinum Amazing Settings wedding band with 0.27 ct. t.w. diamonds and open love knot design; $2,821; Harout R, Edgewater, N.J.; 201-282-5453; haroutr.com

Maerz, who travels the world helping manufacturers work more efficiently in the metal, recalls speaking at an educational seminar at JCK Las Vegas a few years ago, when a woman told him that if she had known she would have to replate her white gold ring every few years, she would have bought platinum instead.

Another point to note: Scratches on platinum don’t translate to lost metal (as is the case with gold); instead, the opposite happens. A patina is produced and the ­surface becomes work-hardened. “As platinum moves, it strengthens as the molecules compact,” says Daniel.

Heirloom pieces really do last for generations. Last fall, a longtime client of Olivia Cornell’s brought a pin-thin shanked 18k white gold and diamond ring from the 1940s into her Rochester, N.Y., store for repair. The ring had been patched multiple times where the metal had split, and Cornell was forced to tell the woman, who had a sentimental attachment to her grandmother’s ring, that no number of repairs would keep the piece intact. (If the ring had been made in platinum, it would have worn just fine.) Cornell made a replica for the client, but the woman had to live with the disappointment of not being able to wear the heirloom. If disappointing a customer wasn’t bad enough, Cornell experienced a similar heartbreak in her own family when her sister faced similar longevity issues with a ring she’d received from their grandmother.

“The ring was 18k white gold with lots of filigree—it was our grandmother’s ring from 1918,” says Cornell. The store’s master jeweler had a heart-to-heart with the sisters: “If this had been made in platinum, you’d still be able to wear the ring,” he told them.

O’Connor stresses this point to clients who bring in mint-condition platinum jewels. If they tell him their grandmother “?‘obviously didn’t wear a piece very much because of its good condition,’ I say the reason it’s in good condition is because it’s made of platinum,” he says.

More on platinum on JCKonline.com:
+ JCK Spotlight Platinum: White Noise
+ JCK Spotlight Platinum: Metal of Honor
+ Platinum Bridal: Semi-Mounts That Retail for Under $5,000