What’s happening with the price of silver?

Oval Link Bracelet

heavy silver bracelet

Silver jewelry prices have jumped – especially heavier silver pieces.

You are probably wondering why.

Most people don’t follow the price of silver so I decided to do a quick post on the subject.

So what IS going on with silver??

One day I went to buy silver for a heavy bracelet order I was filling. Ack! The cost of the silver combined with the labour I was putting in was MORE than I was charging! Anyone in business will tell you that that’s a recipe for, well, going out of business. OF COURSE I hadn’t priced it that way originally. The price of silver had just quickly increased on me!

Naturally I filled the order as promised but then I revisited my pricing. What was going on with silver?! Most of my items are lighter weight and use less silver so the price increases didn’t have a dramatic effect. Buying silver for the heavier bracelets really opened my eyes to the price change.

The price had more than tripled!

Since I began making jewelry (2006) silver has increased in price going from approximately $12US/ounce to $40US/ounce! It has more than tripled!!

Here is a graph of the price change:

history of the price of silver 2000-2011

Note: Silver is priced per troy ounce (a unit of imperial measurement equal to 31.1 g).

What is making the price rise?

First, I should say that, now that I’ve been reading up on the subject, it is way more complex than I can explain here. It’s a combination of limited mining of silver decreasing the supply, a shortage of banking credit available because of the economic downturn and other complex market workings. Another reason for the increase in price is a rise in industrial activity. Increasingly sophisticated electronics use silver to make more reliable components. The manufacture of sophisticated technology is increasing. During the last decade the industrial demand for silver has increased from 35% of the output of silver to 50%. This is putting a strain on the supply and raising prices.

raw silver ore

Okay so what does this mean for the world of jewelry?

Clearly it means that the material cost for silver jewelry has increased dramatically and prices have risen accordingly. For example, a hand forged heavy link chain (like the one pictured at top) has gone from $85 to $115.

What next then?

Designers are adapting to the changes by being incredibly creative with new materials. I have noticed an increase in jewelry made out of fibres; waxed cotton cord, waxed linen, ribbon, leather etc, AND less precious metals – copper, brass, silver filled and gold filled (rather than solid).

What is silver or gold filled? How is it different than silver or gold plated?

A good question. The name is a bit confusing. Silver and gold filled metals are actually filled with a base metal, usually a red brass alloy. However, the coating of precious metal on the base metal is much, much, thicker than the microfilm used in plated metals. There are two standard thicknesses; 1/20 and 1/10 which is a ratio of base metal to precious metal. So 1/10 is 10% precious metal and 1/20 is 20% precious metal. The precious metal is much less likely to wear off with regular use as you might see with plated metals.

What does that mean for Bouton Rouge (let’s bring it home!).

Well, it means that I have, unfortunately, had to increase some prices. It also means that I am making less heavy silver jewelry and that, like other designers, I am experimenting with new materials.

New things are on the horizon! It has been fun exercising my creative muscles.
When there is something new to show you will see it here first! Stand by for photos coming soon!

How do you feel about the new trend? Are you seeing more brass, copper and fibre jewelry when you’re out shopping?

References:
http://www.buyinggoldandsilver.com/language/en-us/prices/silver-price-history.aspx

http://riograndeblog.com/2011/09/what-silver-filled/

http://www.dailymarkets.com/economy/2011/02/22/growing-industrial-demand-buoys-silver-outlook/

 

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