May 13, 2019

WPIC: Global Platinum Jewellery Demand Down 7% in Q1 2019

Global demand for platinum jewellery in the three-month period ended March 31, 2019 (Q1) fell by 45 koz, or 7% year-on-year to 560 koz due to a continued decline in Chinese demand, mitigated by a rise in all other regions, the World Platinum Investment Council (WPIC) said today in the latest edition of its Platinum Quarterly.

The decline in the jewellery segment, coupled with softer demand in the automotive segment too, was more than offset by strong investment demand. Overall global demand was up by 32% year-on-year to 2,560 koz, the highest yet published by the WPIC. Investment demand at 765 koz, was boosted by a the largest-ever quarterly increase in ETF holdings of 690 koz and robust bar and coin demand of 75 koz, WPIC stated.

Looking forward, WPIC said that platinum jewellery demand is predicted to decline by 2% in 2019 to 2,310 koz.

Key aspects of demand and forecast in important platinum jewellery markets highlighted by WPIC include:

  • China: demand fell sharply in Q1, again, but at a slower rate than in Q4’18 which was a very poor quarter. 

The contraction in Chinese jewellery demand in Q1’19 was larger than anticipated so the forecast for China this year has been reduced slightly. Platinum jewellery is also likely to continue to underperform gold jewellery by a significant margin as jewellers favour promoting the larger segments of gem-set and gold products over platinum jewellery.

  • USA: Semi-manufactured platinum imports into the US have had the strongest start to a year in more than 10 years. US GDP growth in Q1’19 came in above expectations but consumer spending remained weak.

Growth in platinum jewellery sales was as anticipated in the US, but at a lower rate than in 2018. Bridal demand in the US is forecast to perform quite well as the falling platinum price is in line with the trend for less expensive engagement rings, and PGI’s campaign to use platinum for diamond mounts adds some demand.

  • India: Tight credit lines for jewellers and a weak rupee impacted the overall jewellery market in Q1 but platinum was the outperforming metal.

Indian platinum jewellery is also benefiting from the shift in the jewellery market from small independents to chain jewellery stores which have a higher share of platinum products. Additionally, government help for farmers and the middle

class in the budget is likely to provide some benefit to consumer spending and jewellery sales.

  • Japan: The jewellery market remains stable but offers little growth as the platinum price has remained around the same level since Q3’18.

Japan and Western Europe have a stable base of platinum jewellery demand but are not expected to see notable increases this year.