In Germany, the global financial crisis is leading people to sink their money into jewellery and watches, according to experts.

"The crisis has made the question of value and sustainability more important again," Karl-Eugen Friedrich, chairman of Germany's Federal Association of Jewellers, Jewellery and Watch Retailers (BVJ), told the news website Earth Times.

Customers are reportedly less interested in fashionable design than in timeless items of stable or increasing value - and sales are increasing.

"Consumers see jewellery as a store of value," remarked a spokeswoman for the luxury Berlin department store Kaufhaus des Westens (KaDeWe).

KaDeWe's jewellery and watch department - which displays brands including Cartier, Bulgari and Chopard - has continued to do well during the ongoing crisis, she said.

Friedrich believes that jewellery is an attractive investment because of its storability and accessibility.

Before the financial crisis, customers tended to take their money to the bank and invest it in securities. But promises of substantial returns often were not kept, so investors now opt more frequently for valuable jewellery.

They say to themselves, "Instead of stocks, I'd rather buy a watch," said Friedrich. One-of-a-kind pieces are also more in demand: "There's been a slight increase in high-end, custom-made items," he said.

For jewellery to be a worthwhile investment, though, customers have to dig deep into their pockets. As Friedrich sees it, "You have got to spend at least €7,000."

A spokesman for the luxury German watchmakers A. Lange & Soehne told Earth Times that, although global demand for watches has fallen during the recession, he is optimistic that the second half of 2009 will see an improvement.

Friedrich is also upbeat about prospects for the rest of the year: "We hope to achieve an approximately three per cent increase over our results in 2008," when sales of German jewellery and watches totalled some €4.6bn.

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