A future full of alternate metals and lighter designs

Aug 21, 2008 | 12:23 PM |

Jewelry industry analysts agree that precious metal prices have skyrocketed, but they're torn about whether the use of gold and platinum in designs might crash and cause escalation of substitute metals.

Mike Riess, principal with Greenwich, Conn.-based metals consultancy Materials Management Co., said surrogate materials are already hitting the market where gold and platinum once reigned. "What you see is a lot of new alloys coming onto the market," he said. "That will reduce the platinum and gold content and emphasize less-expensive items like palladium and silver."

Riess said he's seeing not only precious metals substitution, but also an emphasis on alternate metals. "Stainless steel is popular and tungsten carbide is popular because it's heavy and has a nice color, more of a gray," he said. "You can spruce up the appearance of some metals by alloying them with other metals and they'll change color. I think as long as prices stay where they are the jewelry industry is going to be on the defensive. There will be substitutions."....

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