Platinum Metal in Jewelry – Composition, Worth, and Popularity
Posted on May 18, 2023
Platinum means many beautiful things to the world. Silvery blonde hair. Record-breaking and trend-setting music. Anti-cancer drugs that save lives. Milestone wedding anniversaries. And the world’s most precious metal used in jewelry. A multi-hyphenate word, if we may call it so.
“Nobody said being platinum was easy,” said American businesswoman Emily Weiss. We can’t agree more. This subtle, understated white metal is sometimes lost amidst the flashier tones of yellow or rose gold. But that doesn’t diminish its worth by any measure. Once we discuss the various traits of this strong, steely element, you’ll understand why platinum occupies the place of distinction among precious metals that it does.
What Are the Origins of Platinum?
The name platinum comes from the Spanish word ‘Platina,’ which means “little silver.” Why “little silver?” Simply because the first people who discovered it underestimated it greatly. But we’ll come to that part in a bit. Along with gold and silver, platinum forms the trio of precious metals used in jewelry. At the time of platinum’s discovery, other known metals, such as iron, tin, copper, and lead, weren’t considered precious. The origins of platinum have been traced back to the Pacific Coast of South America, where it was used by Native Americans. On one of his voyages, Antonio de Ulloa discovered it in 1735 and documented it formally in Europe. But that isn’t the actual beginning of this story.
Specimens of platinum have been uncovered dating back to ancient Egypt, which makes us wonder just how far ago the use of this precious metal goes. The oldest platinum was discovered in an Egyptian casket in the 7th century BC. Much later, in 1557, an Italian scholar, Julius Scaliger, wrote of a unique metal from Central America, which was silvery white and could not be made to melt no matter how much they tried. After going through his notes in detail, there is very little doubt that he was talking about platinum. And finally, this – Platinum probably exists in outer space as well. Wow. In 1939, research papers on meteorites and even the moon disclosed that there were heavy concentrations of platinum found in them. Far more than there are on earth, actually. We really need to rethink this precious metal’s real worth.
What Is the Composition of Platinum?
Stating facts, on the periodic table, platinum appears as a chemical element with the atomic number 78 and the symbol Pt. The lustrous white metal, first called ‘little silver,’ was later christened ‘white gold.’ Now, this happened a while before actual white gold came into existence, so we’ll sidestep that faux pas. Platinum is classified as a ‘transition metal’ along with gold, silver, copper, and titanium. What does this mean exactly? Transition metals bond very easily with other metals due to their atomic structure. This makes it easy for them to combine with other metals to be molded into jewelry.
Just like gold, platinum jewelry has its unique composition and hallmark. If you look for platinum grading, jewelry pieces are typically marked with a three-digit number indicating the level of purity. So, 950 PT means that 95 percent of the metal is platinum, and the remainder is an alloy. Alloys used with platinum could be ruthenium, copper, cobalt, rhodium, or even palladium. Compare this to 14k gold, where only 53 percent of the metal is pure. Or 18k white gold, where only 75 percent of the gold is pure. However, not all platinum is 950 purity. 850 and 900 are also acceptable hallmarks of platinum grading. And you also have the 999 grade, which implies a 99.9 percent purity.
Why is Platinum Costlier?
Platinum is 30 times rarer than gold. There are only about five parts per billion by weight in the earth’s crust. In fact, as a quote from Platinum Guild International USA goes, “If all the platinum ever mined were melted and poured into an Olympic-sized pool, the platinum will barely reach your ankles. Gold, however, will fill three pools.” Where does the mining for platinum happen? Platinum is mined in South Africa, which accounts for more than 80 percent of the world’s supply. Other than this, it is also found in Russia and parts of North and South America. Understandably, given its rarity, using platinum in jewelry makes it very expensive. It is the simple function of demand and supply, where the supply is so niche and scarce that it triggers a humongous demand for this luxurious metal.
Platinum is found in alluvial deposits and comes in its pure native form as platiniridium, an alloy of platinum and iridium. It is mined in Canada, Russia, the USA, South Africa, and Australia as thin platinum sulfide layers. However, you can get some platinum as a by-product of copper and nickel refining as well, though this is minimal. At the time of its discovery, because of its high melting point, people actually didn’t know what to do with platinum. It was considered more of an annoyance than a premium element worth seeking. Those who discovered it could not break it down to obtain a pure sample, nor could they craft it into jewelry or anything meaningful. In fact, a lot of it was thrown away in frustration as they continued to mine for gold and silver. Only in the 19th century was some breakthrough in melting and molding platinum made, and it became coveted and desirable. Synonymous with a stark real-life truth – the worthiness of most extraordinary and brilliant people and things only comes to be realized later.
Traditionally, platinum has always been pricier than gold. Over the last few years, though, the prices have dropped a little, and platinum has gotten slightly less expensive and more affordable than you would think. Now is actually the perfect time to pick out something in platinum. And it is only prudent to take advantage of this time; an opportune time for those looking to buy platinum wedding bands, too.
Why Is Platinum Preferred for Engagement Rings and Wedding Bands?
Platinum is synonymous with luxury and simple, minimalistic elegance. Think of the aesthetic as clean, uncluttered, and monochrome. The bride (or groom) who wants to make a ‘less is more’ statement cannot find a more perfect way to do so than with a platinum engagement or wedding band. Not just that, platinum also boasts longevity and is extremely malleable, which means it can be easily sculpted into both simple and intricate designs.
BROSNAN – Platinum Round Diamond Engagement Ring
Class never tries hard to impress, and this timeless platinum engagement ring, featuring a 2ct round center stone, reiterates the same with panache. Scintillating round diamonds weighing 1.03 ct embellish the scalloped platinum shank, while petite pavé diamonds on the gallery just beneath the center diamond, enhance the overall grandeur. The silhouette is simple and elegant, yet the impact of this platinum ring’s beauty is breathtaking beyond words.
Platinum is one of the densest elements that exist, making it very durable and sturdy. If you compare a platinum ring and a 14k gold ring of the same size, the platinum one will be 60 percent heavier. This means it’s less likely to chip or break. It also holds your center stone more securely and strongly. In terms of purity as well, we’ve already established that platinum offers a much higher purity percentage than gold. Today, it is called a ‘noble metal,’ thanks to all of its sterling characteristics. It epitomizes many aspects of the bonds of engagement and marriage – strength, beauty, and eternity. When preserved, an engagement ring in platinum lasts forever. It can be an heirloom piece passed on from generation to generation.
Celebrities and Their Platinum Engagement Rings
Celebrities soon recognized the prestige of wearing this metal over others and used it in their engagement rings, as well. Platinum shone to elevated stature with the luster of old Hollywood enigmas such as Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelley, and Liz Taylor – to name three of cinema’s biggest icons – who flaunted their platinum rings. Today, everyone from Priyanka Chopra to Emily Blunt, Nicole Kidman to Jennifer Lopez has used platinum in their engagement rings. Natalie Portman, in fact, went one step further in her quest for the ideal ‘sustainable’ ring. She used recycled platinum, conflict-free smaller stones, and an old mine-cut diamond center stone.
ASTOR – Unique Platinum Halo Engagement Ring
Though not exactly vintage, this exquisite platinum engagement ring with a starburst halo engulfing the center stone does bear an unmissable old-world charm. With the right amount of dazzle and drama balancing each other out, the ring draws attention to itself for its spectacular design. The platinum shank laid with diamonds adds further to its brilliance. The engagement ring sure has a jaw-dropping price tag, but then who ever said excellence is inexpensive.
What is Platinum’s Price Point?
As of writing this piece, the price per gram of platinum is USD 28.72 per gram. However, this is the cost of platinum bullion going purely by weight. The making charges of platinum for jewelry are quite high – they can even go up to 30 percent more than gold-making charges. Since platinum is a dense metal, only skilled craftsmen can fashion it with precision. Also, the buyer has to cough up the cash for every bit of wastage, platinum being precious as it is. Have we talked you out of that filigree design yet? It is true that plain bands cost less to make, while those requiring more intricate craftsmanship can send your bank account into a tizzy. Be prepared to pay anywhere between 10 percent to 25 percent of the actual cost of platinum just to make your beautiful jewelry pieces. Yes, buying a stunning piece of platinum jewelry with state-of-the-art craftsmanship does have its price.
How Does Platinum Compare to White Gold and Silver?
These are all white metals, each with its distinct attributes, striking beauty, and unique appeal. Silver is fairly inexpensive. But it is also softer and oxidizes over time. White gold is more affordable than platinum while offering similar longevity benefits. But the rhodium plating that gives it the shiny white hue may erode over time, revealing a more natural creamy yellow underneath. It needs re-plating and polishing from time to time. White gold is also less durable and could possibly chip off in tiny proportions that are barely noticeable. Over time, the weight may change, though slightly and negligibly.
Platinum has none of these hassles. The metal is as sturdy as it gets, and its natural, pristine, white sheen endures. It doesn’t discolor, is much easier to polish, and doesn’t need to be re-plated. It doesn’t rust since it has no corrosive properties like iron. All metals scratch, but unlike gold, platinum doesn’t chip away. Instead, it moves within the piece of jewelry, so the weight always remains the same.
Another huge advantage of choosing platinum is that it is hypoallergenic. Since it is mixed with nickel, white gold can sometimes cause allergies. Due to its high levels of purity and choice of alloys, platinum typically does not. Over time, it acquires a shiny, satiny layer around it, called a patina. Some people polish it, while others love the luxurious luster, believing that it enriches the metal. The only care you need to give a platinum jewelry piece is regular washing in a mild soapy solution, wiped with a soft cloth, and left to air dry.
FERRARA – Platinum 5 Stone French Pavé Diamond Wedding Band
This platinum wedding band embellished with 5 round diamonds right in the center has an authoritative statement appeal. The smooth, muted finish of the platinum shank is a fitting backdrop to the glistening glamour of the diamonds, the latter taking all the spotlight. This wedding band is for women, but you can have a matching customized one for the groom, or better still, save yourself the effort; browse and discover from our wide collection of men’s platinum wedding bands.
What is Platinum’s Resale Value?
If there’s one quibble we have about platinum, it’s probably this – poor resale value. If you’re looking at it from an investment perspective, run the other way. You’re going to lose money – not make any. Yellow gold is a much better option for you. That being said, you can always purchase platinum bars and coins that are pure, with a 999 purity stamp – implying that they are 99.9 percent platinum and only 0.1 percent alloy. These tend to be a much better buy. However, it is always better to consult a professional investment advisor, keeping in mind your geographic location, the market situation at the time, and your personal portfolio. The bottom line is, if you’re buying a piece of jewelry in platinum, make sure it’s for keeps, or be prepared to let go of some of your investment. Nonetheless, wearing a platinum jewelry piece is an investment in raising your style quotient.
Who Should Buy Platinum?
This is nothing complex to answer. Anyone who can afford it should buy platinum. The superlative quality and luxury that it offers stand peerless even by the standards of gold and silver. Everyone from a student to a financially secure professional should and can buy a platinum ring if they aim and plan for it.
In fact, during her Platinum Jubilee celebrations (how befitting), the late Queen Elizabeth II wore her most exclusive platinum brooches to mark the occasion. One particularly stunning piece was the vintage Diamond Bow, which dates back to the 1850s. The Queen also owned other jewels set in platinum. Prince Philip dismantled diamonds from his mother’s tiara and had them set in platinum to make a bracelet – a gift for the Queen at their wedding. The Nizam of Hyderabad presented her with a diamond and platinum tiara and necklace set. And then there is her square-cut diamond engagement ring, also set in platinum. Though we can’t compete with the Queen’s exorbitant and grandiose jewelry indulgences, we can all save to buy a platinum band for our collection, and certainly, platinum wedding bands for ourselves once we get hitched. The commemoration of the profound lifelong relationship of marriage deserves something as exquisite as platinum.
PADUA – Platinum Diamond Anniversary Band
This diamond platinum band is the perfect anniversary gift. Boasting 0.21 ct weight of round diamonds across half of the platinum shank, there are endless ways to style this stunner. Stack it with your engagement ring or the wedding band, or wear it with a colored gemstone ring; you cannot fall short of styling ideas. Alternatively, wear it as a standalone for a graceful impact.
Apart From Jewelry, What Is Platinum Used For?
Platinum isn’t just used in jewelry. It has several commercial and industrial uses, the most notable of which is in the automobile industry. Here it is used in exhausts to reduce toxicity and pollutants released into the air. Other than this, platinum has scientific and medical uses. It is used in laboratories, pacemakers, thermometers, and at a dentist’s lab. It is also a good trading commodity for those looking to dabble. Who would have thought?
What Gemstones Go Best with Platinum Metal?
The white, colorless diamond is still the most popular gemstone to be set in platinum. Bursting to the seams with purity and luxury, the combination is a perfect pairing. It’s the ultimate statement when the world’s most precious stone (diamond), without any tints or imperfections, is set in the world’s most premium metal (platinum). Platinum allows the diamond to sparkle to its fullest, its natural brilliance shining through. What is not to love? However, for those who live for unconventional choices and swim against the tide, there are options. Think of Mariah Carey’s pink diamond or Carmen Electra’s black diamond. Not surprising, as both women stand for strong individuality and non-conforming choices. The gemstones’ beautiful and unique colors further enhance the stark neutral white offered by platinum. Sparkling diamonds are the safest and most striking choice of stones to be set in platinum, but if experimentation is your middle name, brilliant sapphires, rich rubies, and even lustrous pearls look fabulous in a platinum setting.