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US Silver Jewelry Sales Up Last Year, Another Sign of Healthy Silver Demand

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Sales of silver jewelry in the US were strong last year, according to a survey conducted by the Silver Institute.

US retailers reported 17% average growth in the sale of silver jewelry in 2017.

Of the retailers surveyed, 59% said their silver sales increased last year and 23% said they remained roughly the same. Only 18% saw a decrease in silver jewelry sales.

Silver sales in the US were also strong compared to other types of jewelry. Retailers said their silver jewelry sales as a percentage of their overall jewelry sales were on average 36% of their unit volume and 29% of their dollar volume. Expressed as a median, silver jewelry sales were 25% of their unit volume and 19% of their dollar sales volume.

About 57% of retailers said silver experienced the best inventory turnover rate in 2017.

Retailers are bullish about 2018, with 93% saying they are optimistic that silver jewelry sales will continue to grow.

Overall, global silver demand fell slightly last year, primarily due to a sharp drop in investment buying. But analysts at the Silver Institute expect an uptick in demand this year.

Silver demand from industrial applications made up about 60% of total demand in 2017. The Silver Institute projects continued growth in 2018. Because of silver’s excellent electrical conductivity, demand is forecast from the automotive segment as vehicles become more electrified and computerized. Strong demand is also expected from photovoltaic applications. Large-scale solar capacity additions and uptake from individual households, particularly in China, should also boost silver demand.

Silver jewelry makes up about one-fifth of total silver demand. Analysts expect jewelry demand globally to continue its steady increase in 2018, expanding consumption by another 4% following a rise of 1% in 2017.

The US isn’t the only place with an appetite for silver. Demand for silver also rebounded in India last year. According to figures released in mid-December, India had already imported more than 5,500 tons of silver and was on track for a 6,000-ton year.

We tend to think of India as gold country, but Indians also have a cultural affinity for the white metal. The country is one of the leading sources of world silver demand. Despite being a down year, India still consumed 160.6 million ounces of silver in 2016, accounting for 16% of global demand. Between 2010-16, India imported 990 million ounces of silver, according to the Silver Institute.

Silver jewelry and silverware fabrication account for more than half of Indian silver demand annually. Silverware tends to be more popular with affluent Indians, but silver jewelry is purchased across all income groups.

India is expected to pass both France and England this year to become the world’s fifth largest economy in dollar terms. Many analysts expect growing incomes in India and other developing nations will boost both gold and silver demand in the next few years.

Projected growth in silver demand is set against a backdrop of tight supply. Global mine supply fell 1% in 2016, the first annual decline following 14 years of consecutive growth, according to the silver institute. In 2017 that trend continued with mine output contracting by a further 2% to 870 million ounces. Production disruptions out of South America, along with a decline in capital expenditure among the primary producers in the past five years, is expected to constrain output again this year.

With the gold-silver ratio hovering around 80, silver is on sale right now, relative to gold. That would indicate this is a great time to buy silver.

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