Monday, May 2, 2011

The Death of Silver!

From the left: Newar earrings, Angel Bell Pendant,Chakra earring, Chakra pendant, Chubshi (Sterling silver prayer counters), Tibetan sterling silver earring, Tibetan sterling silver ring, Tibetan sterling silver Dragon Earrings
2001 was a terrible year for so many reasons.  10 members of Nepal's royal family were murdered by the prince who then killed himself.  Not good for my business because I buy most of my product in Nepal, and really not good for Nepal.  But even worse that year was what Osama Bin Laden did on September 11, 2001.  This horror was sudden, but the damage is still resounding slowly and painfully.  What he did set financial markets around the world reeling and baited the US into two wars.

I started my business in 1993.  Back then, silver was roughly $4-$6 a troy oz.  I could buy silver rings for $3 or $4 dollars  and sell them to stores in the US who would retail them for $10 or $12.  The price of silver stayed basically the same for the first 8 years of my business.  There was a sudden jump in the price of silver in 2001, and by the end of 2002 it had risen about 25%.  Our $10 ring was now $12.50.  When the Iraq war began in 2003 silver started to rise again and by February 2004 this same ring was now $20.  Though the price fluctuated some, the trend was still going up.  Speculators making money off of the fear of others pushed prices even higher.  Many in the silver industry also believe that China has been buying up all kinds of raw materials including silver because, China is growing and silver has industrial uses.   China is also worried about owning so much of our debt, and they know we are still at war and in financial distress.

Silver prices fell some in 2008 when the whole financial market crashed, but silver and gold are traditional safe havens in a down market and they soon picked up again.  This time the rise has been with reckless abandon.  Prices doubled!  Then since Autumn 2010 to April 30th, 2011, prices doubled again.  Many of my colleagues and I have switched to making more brass and copper products.  Last Friday silver was at $48 a troy oz.  Our little $10 ring was now a whopping $120!

In my latest shipment, I ordered little bell pendants like the one that you see above dotting the 'i' in silver.  The bells have always been good sellers especially the little cat bell with a mouse as the clapper.  They sold very well at $18, they sold well at $32, but will they sell at their current price, $70?

According to Bloomberg today, silver futures sank nearly 12% on the announcement of Bin Laden's death.  Does this mean the death of the over inflated silver market?  I do predict that the silver bubble is about to deflate somewhat, but we are still at war and have jobs to create, so I would expect that your jewelry collection will hold a great deal of value for many years to come.  The days of the $10 sterling silver ring are far behind us.

*Some of my customers ask why other sellers have very cheap Tibetan Silver.  The quick and simple answer is... it is not silver!  Beware of anything labeled 'Tibetan Silver.'  Like 'German Silver,' it has become synonymous with 0% silver content.  It is usually a mixture of copper, zinc, nickel and tin.  On our site you can find 'White Metal' or 'Nickel' jewelry and they are priced accordingly.  Tibetans can and do make beautiful jewelry out of sterling silver as well, so I find the recent moniker to be especially tragic for excellent Tibetan craftspeople. *Note that much of the misrepresented silver is being distributed from China or India. Truth breeds better Karma.


  1. The jewelry featured in your photo is so unique and exotic. It's too bad that the world precious metals market has made it difficult for you and your suppliers. I'm hoping we turn the corner and prices on real estate, petroleum and metals gets down to some kind of normalcy SOON.

  2. You are one smart lady, Butternut. Terrific post.

  3. good grief! i knew that silver and gold had risen in value but that's incredible. steven

  4. This information is very good to know. Thanks.

  5. I wondered why prices had gone up; thanks for the information. I hope things can level off soon. I'm tired of everything that used to be affordable moving into the 'not in my budget' category.

  6. Hopefully your beautiful pieces will sell anyway. Although, I'm with you, it would be better for everyone when the prices come down.

  7. Since I wrote this 2 days ago, the silver prices dropped to $40 per troy oz, so they have already lost about 20% of their value.

  8. Off topic, happy mother's day!