By Judi Kipner Wolf , Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Although the use of platinum in jewelry may seem like a current trend, it has been treasured through its long and fabled history. Some basic platinum education will help to better appreciate this amazing metal. The Incas and ancient Egyptians prized it. It has long been used by legendary jewelers and the most spectacular gems in history, such as the Hope and Koh-I-Noor diamonds, are secured into their mountings with platinum. There are many reasons why platinum has been, and continues to be, the most prized precious metal in the world.
Platinum is a rare, white lustrous metal which is extremely durable and is a perfect choice for jewelry that will be worn for a lifetime. It is one of the rarest precious metals on Earth. Even pure gold is more abundant then platinum. It can be polished to a mirror finish with a beautiful white luster enabling it to reflect the full brilliance and radiance of white diamonds. Virtually all designer engagement rings
today are offered in platinum.
Platinum is extremely dense and has superior malleability and ductility. It can be forged and fabricated into the most intricate and delicate patterns and styles. Platinum will not wear away with time and that is why it is often used for the prongs and settings that hold diamonds and fine gemstones in place. Platinum jewelry will scratch and develop a unique texture (sometimes referred to as “patina”) over time. A jeweler can polish platinum back to its original appearance with virtually no loss of weight in the process. But some people actually prefer the natural look of the worn metal; much like you might prize a well broken in pair of jeans.
Platinum does not tarnish or change color over time. In addition, it is hypoallergenic and is therefore an excellent choice for people who have skin sensitivity to other metals such as the nickel that is used in most white gold alloys.
The platinum that is used in jewelry today can contain different percentages of pure platinum mixed with small amounts of related metals. Most platinum jewelry is of a very high purity. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has guidelines for the stamping of platinum jewelry sold in the United States, with purity stated in parts per thousand. Only items of at least 95% pure platinum can be stamped using only the word Platinum or the abbreviation PLAT or PLT. Purities less than 95% must be marked with the actual percentage of platinum contained. A stamp of Platinum 900 in a ring means 900 parts of pure platinum per thousand were used (90%), and 100 parts of other metals were mixed with it (10%). Other examples of stamps you will see in platinum jewelry are Pt900, Plat950, Plat900. The most common alloys used with platinum may sometimes also be stamped on the piece of jewelry as well. These are Platinum Iridium and Platinum Ruthenium.
Platinum has a very high melting point and not every jeweler has the equipment or expertise to work with it. (In fact, it was not until late in the 18th century that furnaces became powerful enough to melt the metal!) But those that do tend to revere the metal for its exceptional qualities and timeless value. Top jewelry designers such as Verragio offer most of their styles in platinum today. Verragio rings
, with their detailed and intricate design elements, are perfectly suited for this remarkable metal.
If you are lucky enough to own a piece of platinum jewelry, you own one of earth’s most rare and beautiful gifts.
For more specific questions ask our experts