Gold Price Volatility and Import Curbs Boost Platinum Jewelry Sales in India

India, one of the three largest markets for gold jewelry in the world, with China and the United States, where owning and acquiring gold jewelry has great cultural significance from time immemorial, is set to break with age-old traditions, according to a recent research conducted by the London-based Platinum Guild International. In the wake of escalating world gold prices, and measures taken to curb gold imports, such as the imposition of high import duty, that necessarily resulted in the prices of manufactured gold jewelry skyrocketing beyond the reach of the average Indian gold consumer, the study conducted by PGI had shown an increase in tendency among the Indian middle-class consumer to turn towards platinum-based jewelry. The study showed that during the period 2013-14 the platinum jewelry market in India witnessed a staggering growth of 41% over the previous year, so much so, that India today has become the world’s fourth largest platinum jewelry market.

A significant revelation of this study is that there is an unprecedented demand for platinum men’s jewelry which the research uncovered was due to Indian men from the upper middle classes in the age group of 25-40 years going-in for platinum jewelry in a big way. It was found that men’s platinum jewelry constituted 53% of the overall platinum jewelry sale in the country.

The PGI research further reveals that there has been a significant growth in the number of platinum jewelry outlets across the country during the period 2013-14. The total number of platinum jewelry retail stores in the country today has exceeded 800, and more are being opened as the demand increases. The demand is not restricted to metropolitan cities only, but can be seen also in Tier-1 and Tier-2 cities. In the year 2000, there were only two platinum jewelry manufacturers and 15 platinum jewelry retailers, but today there are 15 manufacturers and 860 retailers.

Commenting on PGI’s research findings, Vaishali Banerjee, PGI’s country manager for India, said “Platinum men’s jewellery is a very new category and coming from a very low base. It is now seeing very high growth. There are a lot of inquiries for men’s jewellery and retailers are seeing a lot of walk-ins and new buyers. India is the fourth largest platinum jewellery market in terms of consumption globally. This is first time that we have done the research and there is no data available for the total market size of platinum jewellery in India.”

The increase in demand for platinum jewelry is not a new phenomenon, but has been observed over the last 3-4 years, with consumer sales growing every year by 30-50%. According to government-approved import figures, the quantity of platinum imported into the country during the year 2013 was around four tonnes, which makes India the 4th-largest consumer in the world, after China, Japan and the US. Diamond jewelry manufactures who were quick enough to figure out the growing trend, shifted their focus on platinum-based diamond jewelry, and were able to increase their sales; platinum-based diamond jewelry accounting for almost 35% of the diamond jewelry sales in the year 2013.

Vijay Jain, CEO, ORRA, said, “There is a phenomenal growth in platinium jewellery in India. Be it engagement ring, festive and jewellery purchase on auspicious occasions such as Diwali, platinum has become integral part of the purchase. Platinum as it is known goes well with diamonds and it looks very elegant too.”

“In urban India, men now prefer platinum to gold as they feel that the metal talks about their personality. Men find platinum more contemporary and global. This year, platinum has done extremely well and platinum love bands have emerged as a must for engagements in urban India. Diamond-studded platinum jewellery is popular among the young generation. We have witnessed a 30% same-store growth in platinum and in men’s ring category, there has been a growth of 35-40%.”

Joy Alukkas, chairman and managing director of retail giant Joyalukkas Group, said, “Men’s jewellery in platinum include rings, chains and bracelets. However, even platinum cufflinks have become popular these days. Buyers prefer diamond-studded platinum bracelets and rings. In Chennai and Bangalore, platinum jewellery has gained a lot of popularity among the Muslim community,”

Retailers like Joyalukkas, Malabar Gold & Diamond, TBZ and Orra say that though south Indian men were the first to take the plunge, the platinum fever has now caught up with men from northern and western India as well.

According to PGI the consumer desire for platinum jewelry remains very strong in India. Though the Indian market is still relatively small on a global context, it has grown exponentially during the last few years. PGI projects a positive growth outlook for platinum jewelry in India during 2014 and beyond. The pace of growth is expected to continue at over 35%.

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