Over 34 million articles hallmarked again in 2002

Gold suffers 6.9 % loss but silver (+22.5%) and platinum (+32.5%) achieve excellent figures in Golden Jubilee year. For the second year running over 34 million articles were hallmarked in the U.K. – the final total, 34,170,265 being only 193,742 short of the record figure achieved in 2001 – a drop of only 0.56%.

Gold was principally responsible for the decrease in total. A 6.9% drop represented 1,853,063 fewer articles of gold being hallmarked. This led to a smaller increase in some areas of the Christmas retail trade than had been expected. Of the gold standards 9 carat (375) dropped 8.0% to 21,803,042 articles whereas 18 carat (750) rose 8% to 2,176,380 articles. ;=

This higher standard has shown steady increases each year and now regularly achieves increased consumer attention. From retail figures released since the Christmas break it is obvious that jewellery stores throughout the U.K. traded very similarly to the previous year. In the eight week period to 24th December Signet Group’s total sales increased by 4.1 and, although the business failed challenging comparatives like-for-like sales rose by 3.0% with a particularly strong performance by Ernest Jones. In the 48 weeks to 4th January 2003 the like-for-like sales increase was 5.2% and total sales rose by 6.5%.

In the United States, Signet Group Plc saw like-for-like sales increase by 4.2% in the eight week period to 24th December. Total sales were up by 5.8% at constant exchange rates, although down 1.3% on a reported basis due for weakening of the US dollar.

Silver was the shining light in 2002 when the total hallmarked rose by 22.5% to nearly eight and three quarter million articles.

Platinum, too, maintained a steady improvement when nearly a quarter of a million articles were marked – an increase of nearly sixty thousand and 32.5%. his total was achieved by additional items being marked with the special commemorative mark for the Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth.

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