Platinum demand grew in 2002, report says

Demand for platinum jewelry in North America grew by nearly 11% in 2002, said Johnson Matthey’s “Platinum 2003” report.

The report noted North American retail sales of platinum help up “reasonably well,” even though consumer sentiment in the U.S. is low and the economy remains mired in recession. Overall retail reports were mixed and consumer buying patterns have become “unpredictable,” it said. The 11% jump was mostly credited to retail restocking because of low inventories.

It noted that platinum is still a big part of the bridal market, accounting for one-third of engagement ring and wedding band sales, mostly because of its popularity among younger consumers. Still, there has been some erosion in its market share from white gold, which has higher margins and greater flexibility in terms of meeting price points. Platinum’s strength is it remains a basic. “I’ve looked on the element table, and couldn’t find a listing for white gold,” says Gordon H. Bassett, general manager of U.S. operations for Precious Metals Marketing for Johnson-Matthey.

Bassett said there was not much chance of a major promotional push behind platinum as long as the economy is weak.

Overall, worldwide demand for platinum jumped 5% in 2002, to a new high of 6.54 million ounces, driven by strong sales in the Chinese jewelry market.