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Jewelers Contend With Record Metals Prices

Fine jewelry firms, faced with record-high gold and platinum prices and a flailing U.S. economy, are starting to feel the pinch.

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Fine jewelry firms, faced with record-high gold and platinum prices and a flailing U.S. economy, are starting to feel the pinch.

Companies are being forced to raise their gold jewelry prices by 10 to 20 percent this spring, after a few years of trying not to pass along the raw material price increases to consumers. Gold closed on Friday at $1,003.30 per troy ounce, silver at $20.72 and platinum hit $2,080 compared with a year ago when gold was at $655 an ounce, silver was $13 and platinum was $1,226.

While they need to restock their showcases, retailers are exerting extreme caution in what lines they buy and in what quantities. Some jewelry firms said they are scaling back projections, while others have felt little falloff in business.

To combat soaring gold and platinum prices, many firms are pushing new silver lines. Stephen Webster, Anthony Nak, Leslie Greene, Sarah Perlis and Ippolita are a few that have launched silver collections. Companies that have both silver and gold collections are doing better with silver at the moment.

"I'm huge into scale and the one thing you can't do in gold is go really big," said Ippolita, who goes by one name, in February.

Temple St. Clair, which showed at the JA New York Winter Show at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center last week, increased its gold jewelry prices by 15 percent this year.

"We had a very good January and February, despite [the price increase]," said designer Temple St. Clair Carr.

Saks Fifth Avenue is putting the line, which incorporates colorful, faceted and cabochon gemstones into intricate cuffs, pendants, rings, bracelets and earrings, into 12 additional doors.

St. Clair Carr said the show was successful. This time around, 700 designers and manufacturers exhibited and 8,150 buyers attended. The trade show is typically held in January and will go back to that time frame next year.

Slane and Slane, the New York-based jewelry firm that also exhibited at JA, is increasing prices in April. Silver jewelry is going up by 7 percent, silver and gold combination jewelry is increasing by 12 percent and gold jewelry is going up by 20 percent.
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