Gold News

Gold Price Drop Boosts Italy's Exports

Jewelry exports rose 6% during gold price crash, but luxury brands switch to base alloys...
The SHARP gold price drop of spring 2013 saw jewelry exports from Italy – Europe's largest manufacturer of precious metal accessories – rise by value and volume, the thrice-annual Vicenza industry show was told Saturday.
Over the first 5 months, according to the ISTAT data agency, working with the University of Verona, exports of gold and other pieces rose 2.6% by weight from the same period last year, reaching more than two tonnes.
Despite the 25% drop in the gold price, higher mark-ups for workmanship also saw exports by value rise 6% to more than €2 billion.
"The collapse in the price of gold has certainly helped to increase the volume," Professor Andrea Beretta Zanoni told Reuters at the trade fair in the north-western city of Vicenza. "But Italy has done well in some of its key markets."
Formerly the world's No.1 gold jewelry exporter, Italy fell to third place behind India and the United States in 2012.
"It is not the first time we see signs of recovery," Reuters quotes Prof.Beretta Zanoni, "but this time seems to be a sustainable trend."
Italy's jewelry exports rose 8.1% rise in the first 9 months of 2012, the Vicenza fair was told last December.
By value, ISTAT's survey now shows growth in the value of sales to the US, United Arab Emirates and Hong Kong.
France bought the lion's share of Italy's gold and other jewelry exports in spring 2013, consuming 25% and maintaining its position as a key traditional market. Together, the US and UAE accounted for a further 40%.
"Our exporters are present in China," says Prof.Beretta Zanoni, "but they don't yet have strong commercial roots there. So we may have one quarter that goes well and then another that doesn't."
Challenging the revival of Italian exports after the gold price drop, however, what the Financial Times calls "a new trend in the luxury jewellery business" is seeing leading Italian fashion stores now branding jewelry as "precious" for the design, rather than for any gold, silver or platinum content.
"It's the workmanship that makes it precious," the FT quotes a sales assistant in Prada's Milan branch – even though the pieces may be made from "resin, plastic, aluminium and brass."
Prada's online store is now promoting necklaces and bracelets made from brass and zamak - a zinc-based alloy - with cast resin roses.
The brass and zamak necklace costs €1,100 (or £995 in the UK and $1695 in the US) while the bracelet is priced at €490 (or £450 and $750).
Blaming unfair trade tariffs and value-added taxes avoided by cheaper exports from Italy's competitors, "The interest in high-end jewellery has not disappeared, but affordability is still an issue," says Vicenza delegate Stefano de Pascale, director of gold and silversmith association Confindustria Federorafi.
Thanks to the decade-long surge in the silver and gold price, the country's fragmented jewelry industry – comprising perhaps 9,000 separate workshops, according to Reuters – has now seen "many small and mid-sized producers turn to other materials in their designs, including leather, textiles, wood and ceramics," says the newswire.

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