How can the industry give its stones the image of precious metals, which are experiencing a boom in demand as “safe havens” in times of Corona?
Since the beginning of the Corona crisis, there has been a jump in the price of gold and silver: as early as March 2020, the Wall Street Journal described how traders are trying by all means possible to obtain free batches of the precious metals for sale; at the same time, it can be observed that everywhere in the cities, the stores for buying gold have reopened; and in many places, gold panners are even on the move in the rivers.
We had noticed that natural stone has some similarities with gold and silver: it is difficult to extract, difficult to work and also extremely durable.
This brought us to the question: Could the natural stone industry market its materials in the same way as precious metals as a safe financial haven for wealthy private individuals?
To begin our considerations, one observation: As an investor, you would not store natural stone in the form of rough blocks, as you can do with gold or silver ingots.
In the case of stone, this would only be lucrative in exceptional cases, for example when companies hoard remnants of formerly much-used varieties and speculate that the monument conservators will one day ask for them.
The example makes it clear, however, what is at stake when the equation natural stone=gold should pay off: it is a purpose.
The concept can only work if the industry provides ideas for the use of its stones. Natural stone and precious metal (and, by the way, precious stone as well) are very close: the use will be in the field of jewelry in the broadest sense.
In the case of stone, this can be ideas for the embellishment of kitchens and bathrooms, for example, as well as terraces and gardens. However: they must be sensible and functional ideas, not the usual pompous nonsense with which many companies present themselves.
Useful ideas are already available on the market, yes, but: they are not offered under the financial aspect, but with rather questionable arguments, for example that the ancient Egyptians or Greeks already built with stone or that stone is a gift from God to mankind.
From the financial perspective of the customer, the equation should be: whoever invests in natural stone will get his money back at the latest when the property is sold and then achieves a higher price. That is the interest yield that the stone brings. This calculation was the background to the unprecedented boom in demand that the stone experienced before the financial crisis in the USA.
In Europe things are a little different, because there the owners sell their properties less often. But even for someone who spends a large part of his life in the same house or apartment, investing in natural stone pays off: the interest rates here are emotional, as the beautified property brings more joie de vivre.
And: the emotional interest is paid out lifelong, because one does not see oneself full at the stone.
In addition to these investment opportunities in the use of stone in interior design and architecture, product design is also an interesting area for applying the equation.
Some design companies have already moved into this field: they develop everyday objects with high artistic standards and market them under a special brand name.
Such objects, if they are only available in limited editions, for example, can, like works of art, be real investments. However, the brand name must be known.
In summary, the equation natural stone=gold can be an opportunity to enhance the value of the material compared to competing artificial stones or ceramics and also make it interesting for investors.
However, the equation can only be filled with life if, in addition to a beautiful type of stone, there is also a valuable design idea.
When it comes to the target group of the middle class, this design must be functional so that the buyer can use the object in everyday life. Artistic flights of fancy are attractive at best for the target group of the rich and super rich.
Analogous to the business with gold, the slogan could be: “Natural stone is a currency that cannot be printed.”