As we all know, we’re once again living in some uncertain times. This means many families have been taking an inventory of their assets and what’s most important to them. Jewelry, as I’ve mentioned before, can be a reminder and representation of family lineage and a priceless, timeless keepsake that can be passed down for generations. Jewelry is more than just an accessory or a symbol of status, it’s an heirloom that shares a history and a story. With that said, you may be interested in knowing more about platinum.
Platinum itself has an interesting history, but it’s become more popular in recent years by brides the world over, looking for the most exclusive and lasting engagement rings. With the holidays also approaches proposal season, so it’s a good time to break down the benefits of platinum.
A History of Platinum:
Platinum was first used by the ancient Egyptians around 3,000 years ago. However, widespread knowledge of this white metal goes back only a few hundred years. The first platinum jewelry in Europe appeared around the year 1780, at the court of Louis XVI of France who proclaimed platinum the only metal fit for royalty.
In the early 1900s, the popularity of platinum reached the U.S. However, at the beginning of WWII, the US government declared platinum a strategic metal, disallowing its use for jewelry. The use of platinum in jewelry had become a lost art by the end of the war.
Thankfully, platinum’s popularity ramped up once again after the war, and particularly in the 1990s. This gorgeous platinum ring from the 1990s is a stunning example of the jewelry trends that came into style with its returned popularity. The brilliant white platinum beautifully sets off and reflects the deep green of its emerald center stone.
Platinum Seems Indistinguishable by Color Alone:
If you held a simple platinum band next to a silver or white gold one, you might not be able to tell the difference between them other than their weight. Platinum is a white metal that looks almost identical to white gold and will remain looking the same for many years as long as it’s maintained and cared for properly. Platinum can also be used in any type of jewelry piece, just the same as gold or silver.
Platinum is hypoallergenic, often considered a symbol of prestige, and is heavier and more durable than white gold. The only downside for some people may be that it only comes in one color, unlike gold which has three different hues to choose from.
Platinum’s Rarity Makes It Special:
Platinum, as we know, is coveted for being an exclusive metal because it’s more expensive than gold. This is because it is rarer and mined less than gold. Only about 160 tons of platinum are mined annually, as opposed to 1,700 tons of gold. All the platinum ever mined would fit in one large bedroom.
This is another reason buying vintage or pre-owned pieces is so special. The pieces are likely to have a rich and interesting history of travel and ownership. Because there’s less of it circulating in the jewelry market, more of the available platinum pieces are likely to be unique, one-of-a-kind, and more indicative of the era it was created.
How Price is Affected:
The purity in a platinum piece of jewelry is 95 to 98%. Many of the popular alloys for platinum involve other expensive, denser metals like iridium, palladium, or ruthenium. Because it’s denser than gold, the same ring would weigh significantly more in platinum than in gold. Since precious metals are priced by weight, this makes it cost more too. To compare, 14K gold is typically alloyed in up to 75% alloys, with less expensive, lighter materials such as nickel or copper.
Platinum requires a lot more energy to work with because it melts at 3,215°F. Pure gold melts at 1,948°F. This can create some complications when protecting gems already set in the casting, for example. They may be perfectly safe for gold but damaged by the higher temperature platinum requires. It’s also much fussier regarding soldering and welding, requiring a cleaner environment than gold, and a longer polishing cycle. These special requirements can add to the cost of a platinum jewelry piece because it’s extra work and may require more supplies and skill sets to get right.
How Platinum Elements Can Strengthen Gold Jewelry:
Since platinum is trusted for its durability, many high-quality engagement rings made from gold will use platinum prongs to lessen the risk of loss. Prong settings are the industry standard for holding the center diamond or gemstone in place since they allow more light around the stone. Having platinum prongs greatly reduces the risk of losing your diamond or gemstone, as it will grip and secure a diamond like no other metal.
Platinum is superior because as it “hardens,” it strengthens. This special metal has no “memory” so platinum prongs will stay wherever placed. Gold has memory, so if a gold prong is bent and then fixed, it will typically bend in the same place and direction again. This weakens gold prongs over time and makes them more susceptible to breaking, resulting in the loss of your precious gemstone.
No matter what metal your gemstone is secured by, remember to have all prongs examined regularly to ensure they’re secure.
Caring for Your Platinum Jewelry:
Platinum is fantastic for everyday jewelry because of its strength and brilliance. However, to keep your piece stunning, an asset like a platinum engagement ring needs occasional maintenance and attention. As it is not scratch proof, it's best to avoid doing activities like working out or gardening while wearing it. Store it separately or with enough space in your jewelry box so it won’t clash with or rub on other pieces. If visible scratches appear, a jeweler should be able to polish and restore the piece. A platinum ring will probably require cleaning and polishing every few years. It’s then plated with rhodium to give it a bright finish.
Platinum can be a fussier metal to care for, but it’s lasting strength and durability will ensure that your jewelry will remain beautiful for lifetimes to come. The exclusivity of this rare metal makes any piece it adorns that much more special. It’s a wonderful choice for an engagement ring, whether new, custom, or pre-owned, which are all sure to hold their value as well as sentimental worth.