Jewelers may drop gold before World Gold Council dumps jewelry


Gold Wedding Bands Get Dumped for Tungsten

By Parija Kavilanz
Thursday, August 1, 2011

NEW YORK -- Forget about sentimentality and tradition.

Skyrocketing gold prices have jewelers and cash-strapped couples clamoring for wedding bands made of less expensive metals like tungsten, cobalt and even stainless steel.

Over the past three months, tungsten, a steel-gray hard metal, has become an increasingly popular choice over gold with wedding band shoppers at Blue Nile, said John Baird, public relations director with the online jewelry seller.

"The response to our recent men's tungsten collection was immediate," said Baird, adding that the company subsequently debuted a men's Titanium wedding band collection in July.

"In 30 days, one in every 10 men's wedding bands we sold that month was titanium," he said.

As the economic downturn forces Americans to tighten their belts, consumers shopping for jewelry have become more willing to consider cheaper alternatives, Baird said.

Kay Jewelers has also been selling jewelry made of tungsten and titanium for a while. Company spokesman David Bouffard said these "alternative" metals give customers more choice and a wider range of prices to choose from when it comes to wedding jewelry.

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Sona Drills 85.4g Gold/Ton Over 4 Metres at Elizabeth Gold Deposit,
Extending the Mineralization of the Southwest Vein on the Property

Company Press Release, October 27, 2010

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Sona Resources Corp. reports on five drillling holes in the third round of assay results from the recently completed drill program at its 100 percent-owned Elizabeth Gold Deposit Property in the Lillooet Mining District of southern British Columbia. Highlights from the diamond drilling include:

-- Hole E10-66 intersected 17.4g gold/ton over 1.54 metres.

-- Hole E10-67 intersected 96.4g gold/ton over 2.5 metres, including one assay interval of 383g of gold/ton over 0.5 metres.

-- Hole E10-69 intersected 85.4g gold/ton over 4.03 metres, including one assay interval of 230g gold/ton over 1 metre.

Four drill holes, E10-66 to E10-69, targeted the southwestern end of the Southwest Vein, and three of the holes have expanded the mineralized zone in that direction. The Southwest Vein gold mineralization has now been intersected over a strike length of 325 metres, with the deepest hole drilled less than 200 metres from surface.

"The assay results from the Southwest Zone quartz vein continue to be extremely positive," says John P. Thompson, Sona's president and CEO. "We are expanding the Southwest Vein, and this high-grade gold mineralization remains wide open down dip and along strike to the southwest."

For the company's full press release, please visit:

Blue Nile's tungsten wedding bands cost a little over $200 while the cost of a Titanium wedding band is about $100.

Compare that to $1,900 for a classic men's platinum wedding band and $700, or higher, for a white gold band sold at Blue Nile

But it's not just those celebrating their nuptials that are feeling the pinch. Jewelry makers and sellers, themselves are also struggling with sharply higher prices for precious metals like gold and platinum.

Gold costs about $1,840 an ounce, up 204% from about $605 per ounce just five years ago.

So far, jewelers are limiting collections made of these industrial metals to men's lines.

"To men, there's a coolness factor with tungsten, titanium, and stainless steel," said Peggy Donahue, spokeswoman with Manufacturing Jewelers & Suppliers of America.

Industry experts said male consumers seem to like knowing that these industrial, space-age metals are used in making fighter jets, for example.

"Women aren't there yet," said Amanda Gizzi, spokesperson for Jewelers of America.

"Especially with wedding jewelry, women want to stay traditional and buy gold or platinum," she said. "They don't want to compromise at all because they're thinking about passing down these rings for generations."

Don't tell that to Kyle Marie Lotspeich. Practicality trumps sentimentality for Lotspeich, who lives in Ashburn, Virginia.

Kyle and her fiancé James are getting married on Oct. 1. "I would have also bought a tungsten wedding band but Blue Nile wasn't selling one for women," she said.

But her fiance did buy a $320 white tungsten wedding band from the jeweler.

"Our wedding is on a tight budget and we're mostly paying for all of it ourselves," she said.

"A gold wedding band would have cost us close to $1,000. This has definitely helped us save money and maybe put it toward paying for something else for our wedding."

Blue Nile hasn't yet debuted a tungsten bridal collection but is looking into it.

Until two years ago, American jewelry designer Scott Kay had only used gold and platinum for his unique and popular high-end engagement and wedding rings.

In 2009, Kay, who has been designing bridal jewelry for 27 years, became interested in another white metal that has the same sheen as platinum but costs substantially less -- cobalt. Kay also considered experimenting with tungsten but gave up on that because he thinks it's too brittle.

Cobalt is an industrial metal, used in aerospace technology and in medical equipment such as joint replacements.

"When we looked at this metal, it was a no brainer to us," said Kay. "Why not make men's weddings rings from this?"

What's more, the timing for an affordable collection in the $200 to $300 price range was perfect. "It was just when the economy was softening," he said.

Today, Kay said, his cobalt collection is in more than 2,000 stores.

But Kay offers a reality check: "A person who is fond of gold and platinum will always own it," he said.

"But for 20- and 30-year-olds who have become more frugal and practical, if they can buy a hypoallergenic metal that doesn't chip and is less than half the price of a platinum ring, why not?" Kay said.

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Lewis E. Lehrman on How to Solve the U.S. Debt Problem

Lewis E. Lehrman, chairman of the Lehrman Institute, sponsor of The Gold Standard Now project, advises that to reduce the $1 1/2 trillion U.S. deficit, the Republican Party must initiate an investment program.

Working Americans are not saving, which enables the banks to lead the country into a cycle of debt, leverage, boom, panic, and bust.

Lehrman says: "Eliminating the budget deficit of a trillion and a half dollars cannot be done overnight. The proposal by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan was very dramatic -- one Republican called it radical -- but it was not happily received. The solution, of course, is to design an American program for prosperity, because you can solve these entitlement problems with a growing economy. We need a tremendous program of investment, and investment comes from savings. When you pay savers, middle-income professionals, and working people 0 percent at the bank, you are not going to encourage them to save. Then we are left with a bank cycle of debt, leverage, boom, panic, and bust."

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