Everything about Platinum

What is platinum?

Platinum is a precious heavy metal. Because it is both dense and malleable, it is ideal in jewellery production. Platinum derives its name from the Spanish word “platina,” meaning “little silver.”

Why buy platinum vs white gold or sterling silver?

Platinum is extremely rare. Though it bears a similarity to silver, it is much more expensive. It is silver-white in color and highly resistant to corrosion and high temperatures. Platinum can take much more day-to-day abuse before needing to be repaired, whereas silver and white gold need more care. Platinum is also hypoallergenic, and may not cause irritation to sensitive skin.

Why is platinum jewellery so expensive?

Platinum is the “premium” white metal. It is the hardest and heaviest white metal. A six-inch cube of platinum weighs 165 lbs. This ensures a durability suited for rings and bracelets that are exposed to everyday wear.

As we mentioned above, platinum is the most expensive of the precious metals and the most luxurious. Even in credit card lingo, platinum ranks pretty high! Here’s why platinum jewellery comes with a big price tag:

  • Platinum is much denser than silver or gold. It is about 60% heavier than 14K gold and 40% heavier than 18K gold. This means that a platinum piece of identical specifications as a gold or silver piece will be heavier and as a result, more expensive.
  • Platinum is much rarer than other precious metals, with platinum production occurring in only a handful of locations in the world.
  • Platinum used in jewellery has higher purity levels than gold or silver. As we’ve already observed, platinum jewellery will hold at least 80% pure platinum whereas pure gold in jewellery is almost always under 75%.
  • Crafting jewellery from platinum requires specialized tools, higher temperature levels and greater expertise. All these adds to the cost of the jewellery.

Where is platinum found?

Platinum has been mined for centuries, with the highest concentrations found in South Africa, Russia and Canada. It has been discovered that platinum is also found on the surface of the moon and meteorites. Platinum traces can be found where meteorites have crashed to Earth.

What are other uses for platinum?

In 2010, only about 30% of the platinum sold was used in jewellery making. The bulk of the use for platinum is in vehicle emissions control. It has also been shown that platinum used in chemotherapy is effective in treating tumors.

Tips for caring for your platinum jewellery:

  • Store your platinum jewellery in boxes or bags separately, so as not to be scratched by other pieces.
  • Clean with mild soap and water or a jewellery cleaning solution.
  • Though most household cleaners will not harm platinum, other stones and metals may be damaged. Remove platinum rings and bracelets when house cleaning.
  • Work with certified jewelers to polish, resize, or make any other adjustments to your platinum jewellery.

Is platinum the most expensive metal used in jewellery?

Platinum is an expensive metal commonly found in jewellery, however, the rare metal rhodium holds more value. Part of the platinum family, rhodium is more often used to coat and protect common metals such as silver or gold. This gives jewellery its reflective white surface. Temperamental during the melting process, jewellery is rarely made entirely of rhodium, making them extremely valuable when discovered. Platinum is the second highest valued metal.

Platinum vs. white gold – What is the difference in how white gold and platinum look?

White gold is usually coated in rhodium to give it a white, shiny finish. When comparing white gold to platinum, the platinum metal will have a slight gray appearance. Over time, each metal will change and require maintenance. White gold will begin to turn yellow, and requires being re-dipped to bring back its shiny exterior. Platinum will begin to dull, but can be professionally cleaned to bring back its original shine.

Why is platinum popular for wedding rings?

Platinum is a naturally white metal and advertised as being 90% to 95% pure. It is one of the highest valued metals, and requires relatively low maintenance when compared to gold or silver. Platinum wedding bands are known for their long-lasting white finish, durability, and rarity, which make them a popular choice for wedding bands.

How to Identify Platinum

You will rarely find 100% pure platinum jewellery. Platinum is almost always mixed with other metals, but needless to say the higher the percentage of pure platinum the more expensive the metal. Copper, ruthenium, iridium, rhodium, palladium and cobalt are the most popular base metals used in platinum alloys.

To know how much platinum is in your alloy, you need to look for the platinum hallmark. A hallmark is a small identification symbol that is stamped on the jewellery, indicating the level of purity of the metal.

  1. 950 Plat or 950 Pt. – The metal is at least 95% pure platinum and 5% alloy metals
  2. 900 – 90% platinum purity and 10% alloy metals
  3. 850 Plat or 850 Pt. – Platinum purity is 85% with the other 15% being other metals
  4. 800 Pt. 200 Pd. – Platinum purity is 80% while the other 20% is of palladium (another platinum based metal)
  5. No platinum label – there is less than 50% pure platinum in the metal.

Most platinum jewellery generally contains high purity levels, with 85% to 95% platinum commonly used. To put this in perspective, 18-karat gold contains only 75% gold while 14-Karat gold only has 58% gold. In comparison, platinum below 80% purity is not considered platinum.

Shopping for Platinum Jewellery

Whether you buy platinum online or at a physical store, there are several factors to consider to ensure you get the best deal.

Here is a quick checklist before you purchase:

  1. Buy from a reputable retailer. This may seem obvious, but often it can be difficult to tell whether someone is an established retailer. Check reviews, if possible, about the retailer. What are people saying about them? Ask questions prior to purchase and communicate with the seller.
  2. Check for the hallmark to identify platinum. Ask the seller if you cannot find the hallmark. It may be that the item was too small to have one.
  3. Check the after sales policies. Does the seller take responsibility for the sale? Are there returns policies, warranty or free maintenance? If purchasing online, check the shipping policies.

What is the price of platinum? How does it compare to the price of gold and silver?

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