Scarcity of gold opens up doors for silver exports

Industry Watch Jewel Trendz

Pankaj Parekh

109% jump in silver jewellery shipment between April & Feb

The shortage of gold as raw material, rising prices of the yellow metal and the consequent decline in gold jewellery exports have in way benefitted silver jewellery manufacturers.  The Indian silver firms are reported to be going through a transition phase, upgrading their technologies to conform to international standards.

Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) data showed silver jewellery exports rose 109 per cent between April 2013 and this February to Rs 8,140 crore from Rs 3,885 crore in the same period last financial year. In dollar terms, exports rose by 90 per cent.

Exports to the US, Europe grown significantly

The silver exports to the US and the European countries have gone up significantly. There has been an unprecedented jump in exports of silver artifacts, utensils and other Silver products.
According to Pankaj Parekh, vice-chairman of GJEPC, not just jewellery, export of all kinds of silver products to countries like the US, parts of Europe and Japan have also grown significantly. “With the price of gold and palladium moving up, 14 carat white gold, which is preferred by customers in these countries for diamond-studded jewellery, is becoming unaffordable. Sterling silver, an alloy with 92.5 per cent silver content, has become acceptable as it is identical in looks but cheaper than white gold. Indian jewellers are now increasingly exporting diamond-studded sterling silver jewellery. Scarcity of gold as a raw material is also making them shift to silver jewellery,” he said.

Silver firms upgrading technology
Many Indian companies are upgrading their technology and capabilities to match up with the international standards. This indeed has increased the demand for Indian silver in the Western World. Earlier, Indian silver manufacturers used cadmium with silver to make sterling silver, which is more durable than pure silver. The western countries don’t allow using Cadmium due to health risks. Hence, the companies have now replaced Cadmium with Zinc and Copper.

Manufacturers are also using zinc in solder, which helps retain the purity of sterling silver at 92.5 per cent. Some of the large silver manufacturers in Agra, Jaipur and parts of Maharashtra have imported machinery to make articles of silver in powder and paste forms as is done in Europe.

“These technology upgradations have made Indian silver more acceptable in the western world and we are being able to sell these products at least 10 per cent cheaper due to lower labour and land costs,” Parekh said.

According to him, there are over 100 large and medium companies in silver product manufacturing and their numbers are increasing.