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Silver imports hit a record in 2013 amid curbs on gold

Last Updated: Wed, Mar 19, 2014 22:27 hrs
Choose silver over gold this Diwali<br>

Even as gold imports fell substantially, those of silver reached a record high in 2013. Sector estimates suggest India imported around 5,500 tonnes of silver, 180 per cent more than the previous year. The only earlier occasion when India imported more than 5,000 tonnes of silver in a year was in 2008.

Traders needed to restock on silver; with gold costlier, there was a sudden rise in demand for silver jewellery, in India and in the export market. Also, prices were lower - these averaged $23.85 an ounce in 2013, from $31.17 in 2012, leading to higher demand. The price is down as its industrial demand is lagging, due to an overall slowing of economic activity; in 2014, so far, the average silver price has been $20.53 an oz.

Silver jewellery is still in demand. According to a survey by the Washington-based The Silver Institute, with the National Jeweler magazine, 36 per cent of the respondents said silver jewellery gave the highest and consistent margins. Last in the list were gold and platinum. "Silver jewellery has a better resale value and making charges are much lower," said Monal Thakkar, director of the Gujarat-headquartered Amrapali group. Average making charges for silver jewellery is a third or even a fourth of gold jewellery's.

Of the 2,700 jewellers surveyed, 73 per cent said their silver jewellery sales had risen in 2013; 15 per cent said these had remained the same. Price-sensitive investors have been moving to silver jewellery. About 92 per cent of the participants were optimistic or bullish on silver, saying it would remain so for many more years.


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