Platinum is rare. It is strong and durable and can be polished to a natural white luster that makes it a great backdrop for fine jewelry. It is hypoallergenic and resists tarnish. Platinum can be alloyed with other metals in the platinum group – iridium, palladium, ruthenium, rhodium and osmium, as well as copper and titanium – to harden and make it durable and suitable for jewelry making.
Platinum is almost the same as white gold but they differ in rarity, purity, luminescence and durability. It weighs 60% more than white gold, resists scratches, and can be polished to a high shine, almost like a mirror. Platinum is very rare. A single ounce of pure platinum (1,000 parts) can take five months and ten tons of ore to be extracted.
Platinum is the popular choice for earrings, engagement and wedding rings for its luster, durability and strength and capacity to set off a gem such as diamond beautifully.
If you are shopping for fine jewelry and considering buying a platinum piece, here are some tips to guide you in making the right choice.
1. Platinum jewelry costs more than yellow or white gold due to its rarity and the amount of platinum parts that are used.
2. Like gold and other metals, it is alloyed with other metals in different percentages to meet the required hardness and durability suitable for use in jewelry.
3. The US Federal Trade Commission requires that all platinum jewelry sold in the United States should have a stamp or hallmark inside the band to indicate its content and purity.
The mark can be a number before the word “Plat” or “Pt” or “Platinum”. It can also include the alloyed metals used in a particular piece.
- Jewelry that contains 950 parts per thousand (95%) of pure platinum can be marked as “Platinum”.
- Those that contain 850, 900 or 950 parts may be marked “Plat” or “Pt”, i.e. 850Plat or 850Pt.
- Others contain different percentages of pure platinum and other metals in the platinum group and should be indicated as such:
o “600Pt 350Ir” means the jewelry contains 600 parts per thousand of platinum, and 350 parts per thousand of Iridium
o “550Pt 350 Pd 50Ir”or “550Plat 350Pall 50Irid” means that it contains 550 parts pure platinum, 350 parts palladium and 50 parts iridium
4. You need to ask your jeweler to explain what the marks mean and what the values, hardness, and durability you can expect from a piece based on its platinum and alloyed metals content. The price of the jewelry will depend on these factors as well as the design, preciousness, rarity, weight and clarity of the stone/s used in the setting.
Buying jewelry is a good investment. While there are several factors that need to be considered when making jewelry purchase, it is wise to do some research to know what values you can get over time from the piece that you will buy. Like other metals, platinum must be alloyed, primarily with metals in the platinum group to make it stronger and suitable for jewelry settings. The properties and characteristics of the different alloys will define the final characteristic of the platinum jewelry of your choice.