Platinum is a lustrous white, precious metal that has become very popular in modern jewellery.
Platinum does not rust, corrode or change colour over time. It is an excellent metal for making jewellery.
This precious metal has a very long history of use in jewellery. Archaeologists have found platinum artefacts dating back as far as 700BC. The word 'platinum' is derived from the Spanish word platina, which means 'little silver'.
Gold is much more commonly found than platinum, experts suggest that it is 16 times rarer than gold.
Because of its rarity, platinum jewellery was available to only the most wealthy and powerful people. After its introduction to Europe, crowned heads such as King Louis IX of France and Queen Elizabeth the First of England were early European fans of the metal.
What Is Platinum?
Platinum is a precious metal, costing about 50% less than gold. Although we often think of gold as being very heavy, platinum is even heavier! Platinum is around 50% more dense than gold, so it will tend to cost more than gold in equal-sized pieces of jewellery simply because the platinum weighs so much more than gold.
Visually, it is almost impossible to tell platinum apart from white gold.
The platinum used in jewellery is not pure. The purity found in jewellery is from 95-98% in an alloy with rhodium and silver.
Platinum has the advantage of being more durable than gold and is the heaviest of the precious metals.
Almost all (97%) of all the world's supplies of platinum come from just five countries: The USA, Canada, Russia, Zimbabwe and South Africa. Between the two largest producers, South Africa and Russia, account for around 75% of platinum. So rare is the metal that their annual production is just 135 tonnes in total. Platinum is mined from deep underground and is rarely found pure; it is usually mixed with other metals. The process of refining platinum from the underground rocks is estimated to be about five times as hard as gold.
Advantages Of Platinum
Platinum is hypoallergenic to a higher degree than even white gold.
Platinum is rarer than gold and has become associated with wealth and quality. That's why platinum credit cards are higher status than mere gold cards.
The higher weight than gold gives platinum jewellery an increase 'heft', it feels even more substantial, more quality, than gold.
The white metal flatters fair skin or those with a rosy complexion.
Disadvantages Of Platinum
Although it looks almost exactly the same as white gold, it tends to cost more due to its greater weight as compared to white gold.
Platinum picks up scratches over time, giving the platinum a dulled appearance. A smooth finished ring can look significantly dulled after just a few months of wear.
Every year or so platinum will need a thorough clean and polish. Cleaning can remove a small amount of platinum.
The higher price than white gold of platinum settings makes platinum a bad value choice. If you buy a white gold setting, you can spend the difference on a bigger, better, diamond.
Working on platinum to make jewellery or to repair it requires special tools and very high temperatures, this adds to the cost of creating jewellery and also to the cost of repairing it.