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The other precious metal: Shake things up with silver

By Jennifer Hopf

Assorted silver 'Cocktail Stax' bangles by Hera Jewellery, with midnight finish and gemstones.
Assorted silver ‘Cocktail Stax’ bangles by Hera Jewellery, with midnight finish and gemstones.

The switch to silver began as a way to adapt to the sky-high price of gold, but since then, it’s become a successful approach in its own right. Brands and retailers previously known for dealing exclusively in fine gold jewellery have fully embraced the metal and are even looking for edgier, less traditional styles to keep customers engaged.

As the new buying season approaches, some of the standout styles for the year include two-tone designs, vermeil, and unique finishes like black rhodium, enticing new fans of silver, as well as its devotees. And while having the right product in your cases is a definite must, knowing how to best position it is also critical to sales.

Embracing new techniques

When investing in pricier metals like gold and platinum, designers tend to take fewer risks, opting for more tried and true pieces. Although there will always be a place for traditional styles, more flexibility is needed to stay on top of the trends and meet the demands of today’s fashion-conscious consumer.

“Silver is probably the fastest growing commodity,” says Mary Milan, vice-president of marketing for PAJ/ELLE Jewelry. “[It] allows the luxury of being a little more elaborate with styling.”

Indeed, designers are creating much more significant pieces, whether it’s in weight, adding stones, mixing metals, or craftsmanship, says John Anderson, owner of Davidson’s Jewellers in Ottawa. Yet, silver remains accessible to the average buyer, filling in the void of sales lost when the price of gold spiked.

Loretta Gordon-Bock, president and owner of Gordons Gold Jewellers in London, Ont., is seeing highly sought-after brands making successful advancements into silver collections. By addressing the price point needs of ‘brand enthusiasts,’ there is increased potential for demographics of varying age and income to own and wear a piece of that brand.

“These silver collections were not intended to replace the fine selections, but certainly have established their niche in the jewellery market,” she says.

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Consider that sterling silver can still be manufactured in a way comparable to the quality of gold and diamond jewellery. “In some cases, even an expert eye cannot tell the difference,” Milan says. “Although we can offer more weight and fashion in silver, it often still has the look of fine.”

Anderson sums it up: “The style is such that it’s extremely appealing, and the material is such that it makes it possible to do it at a very affordable price point.”

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