Use of platinum in jewelry in North America will likely grow 10% to hit 310,000 ounces this year, due to improved retail stocks and restocking in the first quarter, the Johnson-Matthey Platinum 2002 Interim Review said.
The 30,000-ounce increase is a recovery from falling numbers in 2001, due in part to soft retail demand.
“Christmas of 2001 was a lot stronger than everyone expected, and the start of 2002 was positive for a lot of people,” says B.J. Willliams, the company’s sales and marketing manager. “If the year continued as it started, it would be a fabulous year. But in the last few months things have slowed down a bit, with the problems in the stock market and the threat of war.”
Although some retail chains are stocking a broader range of platinum products, continued firm platinum prices during 2002 have held back further penetration into the fashion sector, Johnson Matthey said. A lot of platinum production is increasingly being outsourced offshore and does not show up as U.S. fabrication demand, it added.
The bridal ring market is currently the strongest for platinum, as it is less dependent on economic fluctuations, the company said. But it noted that American retailers and consumers lack confidence in the economy, leading to a decrease in jewelry orders.
“We are hoping we will see continued growth for the rest of the year,” Williams says. “Christmas will be either good or bad, depending on who you read, so we’re just keeping our fingers crossed for the whole economy.”