In the 1990s, when Platinum Guild International (PGI) began promoting platinum jewelry to American retailers for the first time, the association maintained an outsize presence in the trade with lavish fashion shows, press breakfasts, and ubiquitous campaigns that formed the foundation of the trade’s relationship with the precious white metal.
After a few quiet years and a recent restructuring, PGI is back in 2023 with a multipronged promotional strategy to get buyers, both trade and consumer, excited about platinum. Rebecca Moskal, vice president of marketing at PGI USA, recently spoke to JCK about those efforts, which include a new trade campaign designed to encourage retailers to use platinum for custom pieces, and a consumer-facing brand focused on accessibly priced fine fashion jewels.
“The response to the campaign has been really great,” Moskal says. “We’ve covered all our bases—social, web, digital, some print. We’ve gotten so much feedback that we’re everywhere all of a sudden, which is really interesting because PGI really hasn’t done a major trade push in several years.”
The conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
Tell us about PGI’s new trade campaign.
It’s called “If it’s custom, make it platinum.”
It’s a fourth-quarter campaign geared toward manufacturers and retailers. We know, at this point, orders are placed. Inventory is done. Retailers are going to sell what’s in the case. But for those consumers who are coming in who want something that is not in the case, if they’re requesting it from a manufacturer and they want it in white metal, make it platinum. We have a new website up, a new homepage on platinumlearning.com, and we’re running trade ads.
What’s the backstory to the campaign?
As of the beginning of 2023, PGI USA is now solely funded by Anglo American Platinum [a subsidiary of mining giant Anglo American, which also owns a majority of the De Beers Group]. In the history of our existence since the ’90s, we were funded by PJDA [the Platinum Jewellery Development Association], which was a consortium of platinum miners who pooled their money and gave it to each of the four PGI markets.
But Anglo now solely sponsors us. And with that support, they really feel that the United States is an untapped market for platinum. And so they have said, “What do you need? How can we do this? This is the time to see platinum grow.” There are a lot of initiatives that I will be sharing in the weeks ahead that are very exciting.
Where is platinum now with respect to gold in terms of price?
It’s half. I was just reading in JCK that gold is at $2,000. We’re trading at $990 right now [at press time].
So it’s actually a bargain?
We would never say that, but yes. When a consumer or a manufacturer, when they’re looking to produce something in a white metal right now, there really is no reason not to use platinum.
You’re comparing apples to apples because platinum is generally 95% pure platinum and you’re getting more platinum than gold, so it’s not like a platinum wedding band is going to be $400 and a gold wedding band is going to be $900. But it’s really the fact that it’s naturally white. There’s low maintenance. You don’t have to dip it. It’s never going to tarnish. It’s not going to scratch. You don’t lose metal.
There’s no reason not to be using platinum for white metal jewelry right now. As we know, retailers have supported white gold for years. That’s what they know. It’s in their wheelhouse. They know how to fix it. It’s what they’re selling to their customers. How do you have someone walk in who you’ve been servicing for 20 years and be like, “I have a new metal to sell you.”
What are some of those talking points that retailers could share with their customers about introducing them to platinum?
We like to say that if you start with the best, you never have to upsell. It’s the opposite of fast fashion. You can buy a $60 pair of hoops or you could buy a $300 pair of platinum hoops that’ll last generations. It’s made to be investment jewelry. It’s made to be an heirloom, to be passed down. There’s never been a better time to buy platinum.
Are there more fashion offerings in platinum now, as opposed to just wedding/engagement jewels?
We’re getting there. Platinum Born really is our Trojan horse to get platinum at an affordable price point and wearable enough that you can wear it every day. It’s not bridal and it’s not high jewelry. It’s hoops, it’s layered necklaces, it’s bangle bracelets. It’s meant to be [for] every day, self-purchase, milestone birthdays—things like that.
Also, initiatives like our Couture Platinum Spotlight, where we’re working with yellow gold designers to make their iconic pieces in platinum, are helping with platinum awareness. And it’s getting more fashion-forward platinum into the market. So it’s a multiyear initiative that we have been working on.
Let’s back up. Tell us when Platinum Born was introduced and what the mission is.
Platinum Born launched in the U.S. in 2018. It’s a joint effort between Platinum Guild US and Platinum Guild Japan. We saw in the United States that there was a void in the market. You could have platinum bridal or you could have platinum high jewelry. There was really nothing in the middle. And white gold was growing in prominence. We partnered with our team in Japan. They do all the design. They do all the manufacturing. And it has been like a little engine that could.
We’re currently in 15 Neiman Marcus stores, 30 independent retailers, and our e-comm business is growing year over year. Beyond just platinum, it feels like there’s a bit of a white wave going on. It started earlier this year, and we’re seeing more of it even outside of jewelry. You’re seeing metallics and clothing. Everybody’s wearing silver shoes. I think people are looking for a white alternative.
And the fact that Platinum Born is new, that there really is no competitor to it, has created a bit of a buzz for retailers and for our press team. It’s a nascent brand. We’re still a baby. But sales year over year are consistently growing.
We’re launching in the U.K. next month with a retail partner there, looking in 2024 to expand globally into several other large markets. And with the availability of the product, it allows us to have education. Why platinum? So many retailers, they themselves don’t know how to sell platinum. It’s allowing us to broaden our platinum messaging.
How big is the collection and what are the price ranges?
It starts at $350 retail for a single stacking ring and goes to $21,000 for a bib necklace that takes two weeks for one artisan to hand-thread thousands of platinum beads. The average price point is about $1,200 retail. There are currently 104 pieces in the collection, but we work with each retailer to curate what works for their market. Suna Bros. are the U.S. distributors of Platinum Born.
Does the collection include genderless styles?
Our iconic piece is called the Magnetic. Basically, it’s platinum tubing with magnets inside. You can wear it as a lariat, you could wear it as a choker or a bracelet. That is one of our pieces that we feel men have glommed onto.
The whole collection is about being versatile. All of the necklaces, you can change from a choker to a long length. Some don’t have clasps. The rings are flexible sizing, so men are able to wear them as well. And it’s something for ’24 that we’re looking at—how do we bring more unisex pieces into the collection?
Platinum Born will be releasing a brand new collection in the spring of ’24, with some exciting new designs that are really continuing to evolve the collection. That’s really all I can say for now!
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