Platinum Doping

The platinum world is being turned upside down and I thought someone should let you know. But, before we get into that, I need to make you a platinum aficionado. So, I went to Google and typed in “what is the definition of platinum?”

This is what I got:
  • “One of the rarest precious metals, platinum is also one of the strongest and heaviest, making it a popular choice for setting gemstone jewelry and watches. It has a rich, white luster, and an understated look. Platinum is hypoallergenic and tarnish resistant. Platinum used in jewelry and watches is at least 85 to 95 percent pure. Many platinum watches are produced in limited editions due to the expense and rarity of the metal.”
  • “Rare, silvery white metallic element of great strength, weight and resistance to corrosion. Difficult to alloy, cast and work owing to its very high melting point. The standard of platinum in the US and most western countries is 95% pure and is marked PLAT. From platina, little silver, the word the Spanish gave it when first seen in South America in the 18th century.”
  • “Platinum is a strong metal that is white in color. It is heavier than gold, and holds stones well. Platinum is one of three precious metals including silver and gold.”
  • “A precious metal used in the finest articles of jewelry, notable for its strength, malleability, and silver-white appearance.”
  • “Platinum is a white metal, but unlike gold it is used in jewelry in almost its pure form from 85%, 90% or 95% pure. Platinum is very hard and is extremely long wearing and is very white, so it does not need to be Rhodium-plated like white gold. Platinum is very dense making it much heavier than 18k gold. Because platinum is hard it is best suited for setting the large, valuable stones. The platinum prongs for setting stones would be stronger than the setting made with softer gold.”
  • “A metal element whose rarity and unusual tensile strength make it extremely valuable, with a price exceeding even that of gold. It is a heavier, silver-white element that is malleable and ductile and does not corrode. Nor does it tarnish. It needs great heat to fuse, and this durability — coupled with its harmonious color — makes it ideal as a diamond setting. When employed for jewelry, it is used in the form of a platinum alloy.”
  • “A dense (heavy) silvery, grey metal, atomic number 78, atomic weight 195.078 , used by pre-Columbian South American Indians, and rediscovered in the 18th century. Its first use for coins was by Russia in 1828, following the discovery of large platinum deposits in the Ural Mountains in 1822.”
  • “A highly valued precious metal. Platinum is 95% pure, reflecting a brilliant white luster that does not fade or tarnish. It has a higher density than most metals and is more durable and less likely to show wear.”

Platinum was never less that 85% pure under any definition. Well, now platinum is being DOPED! Large metal manufacturers are taking pure platinum and cutting it with copper and cobalt! The product is being sold as 585 platinum. The 585 stands for 58 ½ % pure platinum and 41 ½ % copper and cobalt. The C & C (copper and cobalt) is used as a filler! By diluting the platinum with cheaper alloys the manufacturer can practically double his profits! This comes at the expense of you, the consumer, if you think you are getting the real McCoy. The large manufacturers that are producing this product tell me that they are not breaking any Federal Trade Commission guidelines as long as they inform the consumer (you) that you are buying watered down platinum with the 585 stamp inside the ring. The problem comes in when the doped platinum gets sold over and over down the supply chain and less scrupulous vendors decide to remove the 585 and leave just the plat stamp. (This can be done in less than 60 seconds on a polishing wheel). Then you decide to go on-line and buy what appears to be a great deal on a platinum band only to possibly find out later (when it cracks, craters, discolors, or your finger breaks out in a rash) that you have been duped by doping!

 

How can you protect yourself
  • Only buy a platinum ring from a well know manufacturer (Novell, Benchmark etc) or from a vendor that will put in writing and guarantee the platinum content of your ring (90 to 95% pure is a good measuring stick with 5-10% iridium).
  • A standard 6mm (1/4 inch) comfort fit platinum band weighs 12-13grams. A doped platinum ring will come in weighing over 33% less at 8.6 grams (approximately).
  • The color can also be a dead give away; all the pieces I examined couldn’t be polished up to hold a true white-luster but more of a grey-luster. What makes visual identification so difficult is 585 can be dipped in rhodium (a platinum group metal) to mimic the look of real platinum.
  • Melting point. Since the melting point of true platinum is so much higher than that of doped platinum, the minute a torch touches the imposter its shell will oxidize (black film crust). Of course this test requires a jeweler and a torch; not necessarily things you have laying around your garage.

Conclusion:

The question is, where is all this going–platinum isn’t really platinum; diamonds are baked, laser drilled and fractured- filled. Everything comes with a disclaimer; every one, it seems, is trying to pull a fast one. We live in a world that your identity could be stolen just by going on your computer. Now you have to worry about the true identity of your platinum ring. The people who don’t ask a lot of questions about what they are buying probably are not getting what they are expecting.

 

What Can We Do About It?   
Currently, this issue is before the Federal Trade Commission (F.T.C.).  You can make a difference by combining voices. Follow the steps below and let your voice be heard!

  1. Go to: http://secure.commentworks.com/ftc-jewelry
  2. You will see a welcome screen that contains a Federal Trade Commission “Comment Form.”
  3. Insert requested contact information, and comments, into the “Comment Form.”
  4. Click “Continue” and follow remaining instructions in order to submit the document to the FTC.