U.S. Jewellery Imports Surge in Q3

New York: U.S. jewellery imports jumped 85 percent for platinum in the third quarter of 2015 and 12 percent for gold, ahead of the holiday season, as prices for both precious metals fell for the fifth straight quarter, Thomson Reuters GFMS calculations showed on Monday.

“The holiday season is the most significant contributor to annual retail sales,” said Chicago-based Erica Rannestad, senior analyst of precious metals demand at the GFMS metals analysts team in Thomson Reuters, commenting on platinum jewellery.

“The holiday season also is a popular time for marriage proposals, which is typically positive for platinum ring demand.”

Platinum jewelry imports surged to 274 kg (9,665 oz) in the third quarter, up 85 percent from the July-September period in 2014, with imports of platinum rings seeing the strongest rise among the jewellery types at 94 percent, GFMS data showed.

This comes after a year-over-year rise of 7 percent in the first quarter and 39 percent in the second quarter for U.S. platinum jewelry imports, Rannestad said.

Imports from Thailand and France more than doubled. U.S. imports of gold jewelry rose 12 percent in the July-September period compared with a year ago, at 16,910 kg, with the rise driven mainly by higher imports from India, Oman, Thailand and Turkey, she said.

“The combination of lower gold prices and a stronger dollar has been positive for gold jewelry imports,” she said.

Meanwhile, imports from the second and third largest sources of U.S. gold jewelry imports, China and Italy, dropped 1 percent and 2 percent respectively, Rannestad said.

The overall higher imports came as gold prices fell 5 percent after a series of market shocks. “Year-on-year growth is expected to be positive, but it is uncertain that growth would continue at a double digit pace,” Rannestad said.

“So far this season, retail sales have appeared healthy, with a portion of shoppers making holiday purchases earlier compared to last year.”

U.S. imports of silver jewelry rose by 11 percent in the third quarter to 460,215 kg as spot silver prices fell 8 percent.