July 21, 2024
Investment

Why silver and gold may still be the safest investment there is: high jewellery houses Van Cleef & Arpels and Tiffany & Co. embrace precious metals, as values surge in uncertain times


The prices of gold, silver and platinum may all be beginning to enjoy tailwinds due to weakening global economic growth, stabilising rate hikes, geopolitical tensions and growing industrial demand, according to the World Bank. In September, the bank’s precious metals index hit 146.6.

“Wars remind us how connected all countries and markets are – the familiar globalisation that has allowed our economies to develop strongly by taking advantage of demand from external markets also means that they’re affected by wars in countries thousands of miles away,” Juan Rubén García, a consultant specialising in international trade and director at Spanish Financial Services, told the Post.

Bulgari Cabochon Collection yellow gold ring and necklace

“Last year we saw how the GDP of Ukraine and Russia fell and foreign investment virtually evaporated. This panic spread to many other countries and their investors, who turned to precious metals as a safe haven investment, causing the price of precious metals to rise rapidly,” García adds. “I do not believe that there is any commodity that has been spared recently from rising prices, and I refer to the cumulative inflation rates of all the countries in the world over the last year.

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“In the end, we’re talking about a basic economic rule of supply and demand: the higher the demand for precious metals, the more their value increases,” he continues. “It’s true that many brands use them in the manufacture of their products, from fine jewellery and watches to fashion and even in cars. In the end, they pass on these extra costs to their customers.”
Bulgari Cabochon Collection rose gold ring and necklace
All this may be welcome news for Hong Kong’s jewellery industry after a few volatile years. The sector is generally export focused, according to the Hong Kong Trade Development Council.

Total exports of fine jewellery, including both domestic exports and re-exports, fell 4 per cent in 2022, but that was after a spike of 47 per cent in 2021.

Tiffany & Co. Tiffany Forge large link necklace in blackened sterling silver

The appetite for jewellery and precious metals in Hong Kong may be bouncing back. This was evidenced during the 40th edition of the Jewellery & Gem World Hong Kong fair (JGW) in September.

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Widely recognised as the largest jewellery fair globally, JGW40 featured 3,422 exhibitors from 44 countries and regions. It attracted 53,879 buyers from 142 countries and regions, with around 70 per cent of visitors originating from outside Hong Kong, according to organisers Informa Markets. Participation numbers were on par with pre-2019 levels.
Bulgari Cabochon Collection necklaces in yellow and rose gold

While one driver of growth for the prices of precious metals is global economic uncertainty, another is the actual supply.

“The value of these metals is conditioned by the relationship between supply and demand. If we aggregate the use cases for each – both in terms of their physical properties and their effect on investors’ portfolios and countries’ central banks’ coffers – gold accumulates the highest demand,” says Gabriel Rodríguez Lorenzo, CEO of Sin Comisiones, a website that allows users to compare financial products and investment platforms.

Bulgari Cabochon Collection rose and yellow gold rings

According to Orion Metal Exchange – a California-based platform for buying, selling and exchanging tangible precious metals – assets like gold and silver are key to diversified investment portfolios.

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“Precious metals such as gold and silver have long been recognised as reliable stores of value during turbulent times. They tend to retain their worth and often appreciate when traditional markets falter,” noted Orion in a news release published last month.

14. Tiffany Forge drop link earrings in high-polished sterling silver

In September 2023, the quarterly average price of silver was US$23.6 per troy ounce, up from US$19.2 per troy ounce a year earlier.

Silver is now in vogue among jewellers, with an uptick in the metal’s use seen this year. At mid-range brand Monica Vinader, sales for pieces that incorporate silver have risen by 26 per cent since early 2023.
Van Cleef & Arpels Perlée diamonds pave ring, rhodium plated 18k white gold

A brand strongly associated with sterling silver, Tiffany & Co. in October debuted the Tiffany Forge collection, a series of medium and large chain-link pieces including necklaces, bangles, earrings and rings, all using blackened sterling silver.

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Alexandre Arnault, executive vice-president of product and communications, says the new collection – featuring the brand’s signature open-link motif – showcases Tiffany’s “exceptional craftsmanship and our hollowware workshop capabilities”.

Van Cleef & Arpels Perlée watch, yellow gold bead bezel onyx dial

However, haute joaillerie maisons such as Van Cleef & Arpels have always been at home with the perennial allure of gold, reinterpreting the metal to create new silhouettes. The Perlée collection features a striking pairing of beaded gold with precious stones.

A trio of Perlée Couleurs rings sees the precious metal combined with diamonds, rubies, emeralds, sapphires and onyx, while the Couleurs transformable long necklace includes coral, onyx and turquoise. For more intriguing treatments, a diamond pavé ring features a rhodium-plated variety of 18k white gold, while the brand’s beading technique can also be found on a Perlée 23mm wristwatch, adorning the bezel in contrast to the sunburst onyx dial.



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