Because of the continuing high price of precious metals, fashion jewellery and designs that use smaller amounts of metal are popular with jewellers and designers, in a bid to keep prices affordable for consumers.
“High precious metal prices have again dampened down sales, especially in the women’s self-purchase market,” commented Birmingham Assay Office chief executive Michael Allchin.
“Affordable treats in nine carat gold and silver are difficult to find, so that the volume market has looked more and more to lightweight silver articles that weigh less than 7.78 grams and don’t need hallmarking, and fashion jewellery.”
Figures released by the Assay Office show that the number of 999 gold items hallmarked increased in Q4, jumping from 96 articles in 2011 to 564 in 2012 – a massive 487.5 per cent rise.
Michael believes that this is explained by the fact that items associated with ceremonies have held their prominence. “Eighteen carat gold ‘special gift purchases’ have fared better, while platinum, palladium and 22 carat gold purchases, all associated with the wedding market, have shown increases in sales,” he concluded.