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Articles from STERLING SILVER JEWELLERY (830 Articles)

Retailers have started realising the advantages of silver
Retailers have started realising the advantages of silver


Pros and cons for silver today

As beautiful as the cool white metal is, silver makes great economic sense, too - despite its price hikes. CARLA CARUSO reports.

While there has been much talk about the rise of gold, less has been said about silver's escalating fortunes.

Geoff Lipton, director of Melbourne jewellery importer Dakota Silver, says the soft white metal's revival has been somewhat ignored by the mainstream media: "Two commodities - gold and oil - get all the media attention, and poor, old silver never rates a mention. But, silver has gone up more than gold percentage-wise - it's quadrupled, although a lot of people don't realise it."

According to the 2008 Silver Yearbook published by consultant CMG Group, silver prices last year surged to highs not seen since 1981: "Prices have risen consistently, since making a low of $US4.028 per ounce on November 26, 2001. This price reflects continued strong investor appetites for silver. Last year was the second consecutive year that investors were net buyers of silver, after many years of being net sellers."

Despite the price hikes - and lack of mainstream media interest - the metal remains largely affordable and consumers have been taking note in a world where fashion dictates. Gina Kougias, the director of Sydney silver jewellery wholesaler Georgini Collections, says it is now seen as a real alternative for gold lovers, who have found the top-end metal less attainable in today's market: "Once upon a time, people bought jewellery to last a lifetime. These days, jewellery is more of a fashion item that they want to change often, along with their outfit. They want something new and something with 'wow factor' - which they don't have to insure."

Silver can provide this.

Susan Campbell, the director of Sydney jewellery importer Aztec Gold and Silver, agrees. She says the beauty of silver for consumers is that it can be bought monthly, rather than, say, yearly - even in the face of slight price hikes.

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"Changing fashions dictate new designs in affordable silver jewellery constantly - a classic sterling silver necklace can make that little black dress or casual pair of jeans," Campbell says.

Anna Diamond, the director and designer of Adelaide jewellery manufacturer Palas, says consumers want unique, wearable pieces, and silver delivers. "It's more effortless, casual jewellery that can be worn everyday".

The price hikes work two ways however, warns Lipton: "Gold lovers may drop down and buy silver and silver wearers may drop down to fashion jewellery. Still, it's too early to tell."

Stainless steel is also now providing real competition. Sarah Lee, of Melbourne silver jewellery wholesaler Display Plus Imports, says the group is bringing in a wide range of stainless steel jewellery for women as an alternative to silver (already popular with men). "Stainless steel doesn't tarnish and it wears really well - it has a lot going for it. Though, it does have a slightly darker finish to it for those who prefer the white look," Lee observes.

She says stainless steel is an especially cheaper item for people wanting to buy more heavyweight pieces, which can now be quite pricey.

On the downside, silver can tarnish and often needs polishing with a cloth. "It can also go black on certain people, who have a higher level of acid in their skin," Lipton informs.

Still, Aztec's Campbell says new advances are combating some of these problems: "It is easier to maintain silver now, with a lot of rhodium plating being used and anti-tarnishing products on the market."

Despite some challenges, there is no doubt silver will continue to shine in the face of it all.

Carla Caruso • Journalist
Carla Caruso has been a jewellery junkie for as long as she can remember, has covered the Vicenza gold fair in Italy and one day hopes to pen a novel about all that glitters. She has been a freelance contributor to Jeweller since 2005.
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Monday, 16 September, 2019 04:34pm
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