“What’s your favorite metal for jewelry?” This is a question we are often asked. Often. Which is a bit like asking a mom to pick her favorite child… Platinum. It’s platinum. (Just don’t tell gold or silver.)
All silliness aside (we definitely don’t love one child more than another!), platinum jewelry, and platinum wedding bands and engagement rings in particular, have continued to gain in popularity over the last decade. For good reason. How do we love thee, platinum? Let us count the ways….
Read on for everything you ever needed to know, and love, about platinum generally, and its use in jewelry specifically.
What is Platinum?
Ultra-durable. Hypoallergenic. Beautiful. Rare. Pure. Platinum, all these things and more, is a lustrous silver-white precious metal which, alongside silver and gold, is one of the most important metals used in fine jewelry.
- One of the densest substances on Earth, giving it a reassuring weight and heaviness when worn as jewelry. As such, it is also considerably heavier than other jewelry metals. For example, a jewelry item made from platinum is about 30% heavier than the same item made from 18 karat gold.
- A soft metal, with a Mohs rating of 4 to 4.5, but still harder than silver and gold, making it a longer-lasting choice for jewelry.
- Malleable and bendable, meaning that it can bend without breaking and is unlikely to shatter or chip if dropped.
Is Platinum Rare?
Platinum is far, far rarer than either gold or silver, which is probably more than half the reason it’s so sought after amongst lovers of fine jewelry. To compare:
- Only about 6 million ounces (170 metric tons) of platinum is produced every year.
- About 108 million ounces (3,062 metric tons) of gold is produced annually.
- About 860 million ounces (24,381 metric tons) of silver is produced annually.
In short, platinum is more than 15 times rarer than gold… little wonder that it’s been named “King of Metals”.
Why so rare? According to the World Platinum Investment Council, 97% of the world’s platinum is found in only four regions: South Africa is responsible for 72% of annual global platinum production, with the other three regions being Russia (11%), Zimbabwe (8%), and North America (6%).
Platinum is also extremely pure: in fact, platinum is up to 95% pure, compared to gold at 75% pure.
Why Choose Platinum Over Gold (or Silver) for Jewelry Design?
There are several excellent reasons to plump for platinum when choosing your precious metal for a special jewelry item. First being its simple beauty of course. Need more than beauty to sway your choice? Here’s a list of reasons to choose platinum over other metals:
- No color transfer or fading: with its satiny silver-white luster, platinum may be stunning all on its own, but when paired with a stone it won’t add any of its own color to the stone in question. This works to enhance and accentuate the diamond, sapphire, ruby, or other precious stone chosen for your special jewelry item. Furthermore, platinum won’t fade or change color over time.
- Resistant to damage: being durable and malleable, platinum is not easily scratched or damaged, nor will it wear away. It’s a long-lasting metal for a piece that will last you a life-time.
- Resistant to corrosion: platinum has a high melting point which provides strong resistance to corrosion and chemical attack.
- Hypoallergenic: platinum is hypoallergenic, making it perfect for people with sensitive skin and allergies to some metals (which are more common than you may think).
- Low maintenance: platinum can be cleaned with a simple steam clean rather than a specialized polish. It’s the ultimate wear and go metal.
Note: when buying or designing platinum jewelry insist that you get to see the platinum’s markings to ensure you are getting the real deal: platinum jewelry must, by law, have the marking of “950 PT” or “950 Plat”.
Is Platinum Jewelry Expensive?
Platinum jewelry does tend to be more expensive, which is not surprising when you understand its rarity. Limited supply combined with the sought-after nature of platinum and corresponding high demand mean that platinum jewelry prices are unlikely to come down.
The fact that platinum is so pure also adds to the allure – and the price. Where platinum jewelry alloys are typically 95% pure platinum or higher, gold jewelry alloys usually contain only 75% (18 karats) or 53.4% (14 karats) pure gold.
There are other factors driving platinum jewelry prices higher than other metals but suffice to say the finished product is always worth it!
Who Wore Platinum First?
Platinum jewelry pieces have been found dating as far back as 1200 BC! It would seem that ancient Egyptians used platinum to adorn their highest ranked priests, kings and nobles and craft unique treasures. The great Egyptian priestess Shepenupet, for example, was found buried in a magnificent Sarcophagus decorated with gold and platinum hieroglyphics. A small document casket made of platinum was also placed in her tomb.
Fast forward to the reign of Louis XVI at the Royal court of Versaille in the 1600s-1700s, and we find platinum so prized that it is declared the metal of royalty.
Platinum hasn’t only been prized for its beauty in jewelry in the history books, however. During World War II, platinum was declared a strategic metal by the United States government and the use of platinum in jewelry design was banned. Instead, thanks to this metal’s strength, durability and malleability, platinum stocks were saved and used for rifle and engine parts, explosives, and the making of armaments.
Closer to modern times, we find that royals continued to be smitten with the satiny sheen of platinum: at the coronation of George VI of England for example, the crown made for his wife Queen Elizabeth (late Queen Mother of England) was made entirely of platinum, set with the famous Koh-I-Noor diamond. Meanwhile, also on the royal platinum train (albeit a slightly more scandalous track!), Wallis Simpson, the infamous divorcee who lured King Edward into abdicating his throne, once declared jewelry made of platinum as the one and only choice for evening wear.
In short, platinum has always been prized by fancy folk, and when Elvis and Priscilla Presley exchanged platinum wedding bands at their 1967 wedding, it became even more famous and fabulous.
Today, royals, celebs, and stylish folk from all walks of life continue to look to platinum as the style-setting choice for jewelry pieces designed to stun and delight. To learn more about platinum, why we at Keezing Kreations love designing exquisite jewelry with this precious metal so dearly, and why you might consider platinum for your next special jewelry item, click here.
Thinking about adding a new platinum jewelry piece to your collection? Or considering proposing with a ring made from the metal most prized by royalty and style-setters for centuries? Visit our Boston jewelry store and custom jewelry design studio; you will be astounded by the rich and luxurious feel of platinum jewelry, and the creativity we can bring to your platinum ring or necklace.