A Platinum Primer

Common questions about the world’s most precious metal

1. Are platinum and white gold the same or similar metals?

Platinum is a precious metal and gold is a different precious metal. They are completely different. When platinum emerges from the ground, it is naturally white. Platinum stays naturally white throughout the years with no added maintenance. White gold, on the other hand, is simply yellow gold that has had other alloys added to it to make it appear white. Then, white gold often must be rhodium-plated. Rhodium is a member of the platinum group metals family, and it only covers the surface of the jewelry item. Often white gold jewelry tends to “yellow” with wear. Platinum is also approximately 60 times more rare than gold.

2. How can I tell if the jewelry I’m buying is platinum?

It’s relatively easy to check to see if the jewelry you’re buying is, indeed, platinum. All platinum jewelry sold in the U.S. must be stamped with a common quality mark that shows the percentage of platinum used in the alloy. These marks are, most commonly: Platinum, Plat, or Pt followed by the percentage of platinum used, for example: Pt1000 (pure platinum), Pt999 (999 parts per thousand platinum and one part other metal).

Other common platinum alloys are: 950Pt (or 950Plat or Pt950) which is 950 parts per thousand platinum and 50 parts other metals; 900Pt (or 900Plat or Pt900) which is 900 parts per thousand platinum and 100 parts other metals; and 850Pt (or 850Plat or Pt850) which is 850 parts per thousand platinum and 150 parts other metals.

3. Does platinum scratch?

Like all precious metals, platinum does scratch. If a platinum piece has a high-polish finish, scratches are actually easier to spot, because of the high contrast between the polish and the scratch. Platinum’s surface, when scratched, will actually separate and make room for the scratch without loss of metal. This means that platinum does not lose the minuscule amount of metal that disappears when other precious metals are scratched. This explains why surface finishes such as florentine, engravings, and such last almost indefinitely on platinum, while the same finishes in gold will be worn off in a relatively short time.

Over time, platinum develops a natural patina that many people prefer over the “just polished” look. This patina is one factor that makes platinum very special; at any age, platinum has a very distinctive look that is all its own. Platinum will never tarnish and will never wear out. Jewelers can always repolish your platinum jewelry if you prefer a high gloss look.

4. I’ve heard that platinum is harder to work with than gold or silver. Can our rings be sized if we buy them in platinum?

Platinum, like other metals, can be worked on or altered by a qualified jewelr. Platinum can also be sized. Platinum is different to work on than gold or silver, but not more difficult for a qualified and skilled craftsman. Platinum has a much higher melting point than other precious metals and it can be easily contaminated if mishandled.

5. White gold is less expensive than platinum. It’s the same color. Why shouldn’t I buy it instead?

If you look closely at both white gold and platinum, you will see that the color and the look are not entirely the same although they both have a white appearance. The platinum piece will have a whiter color, whereas the white gold might have a faint yellowish tinge, or could be plated with another metal such as rhodium to achieve a whiter look.

Besides the look, platinum also has a very different feel than gold or silver. Platinum jewelry manufactured from 900Pt alloy weighs 60 percent more than the same piece if manufactured in 14-karat gold. This is a huge difference, one you can feel immediately when the ring of the same size made from platinum is compared with one made of gold. Remember, when you’re considering bridal rings, it’s important to keep in mind that you will wear this jewelry every day. Platinum is very durable, more so than any other fine jewelry metal, and will not wear down over time, as do other metals.

6. Why does platinum cost more? Is it worth it?

Yes, platinum does cost more but for good reason: It is the ultimate precious jewelry metal. Platinum is a purer metal (90 or 95 percent pure in most cases) than either 14-karat (58.5 percent gold) or 18-karat (75 percent gold) gold. Platinum is more rare (there is less platinum in the world and it takes more effort to get it out of the ground and refine it) and platinum is heavier (90 percent platinum weighs 60 percent more than 14-karat gold) than any other precious metal.

With platinum, you get what you pay for. There is more precious metal in a piece of platinum jewelry. Platinum wears longer and needs less maintenance over the years, a fact that will give you peace of mind. Platinum also holds gemstones securely in place and “lights up” a diamond in a way no other metal can. All these factors make it the perfect choice for everyday wear.

Article courtesy of Platinum Guild International, 620 Newport Center Drive, Suite 800, Newport Beach, CA 92660 Phone: (949) 760-8279, Fax: (949) 760-8780

For more information about platinum jewelry, log on to www.preciousplatinum.com.

The founder and president of Diamond Cutters International, Fred Cuellar is one of the top diamond experts in the world, as well as a three-time Guinness Book record holder in jewelry design.
Fred Cuellar
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