Platinum jewelry is making a surprising comeback, rising in popularity in the last ten years. Though still consistently outsold by gold, platinum jewelry has many of the desirable characteristics of gold with few of the drawbacks. Platinum is used in jewelry in nearly any application that gold is, including platinum wedding bands, necklaces, earrings, bracelets, and pendants.
Platinum was discovered and used in the ancient world, primarily found in river outflows in Central America. For a long time, the metal was misunderstood, being classified as 'white gold' that could not be melted. It wasn't for over 40 years after platinum was discovered by the Western world that someone (Pierre-Francois Chabaneau, 1786) was able to finally melt it, cast it, and work it into jewelry.
Platinum jewelry has several characteristics that make it functionally superior to gold, silver, or indeed basically every other 'noble' metal. The main advantage is strength; gold, when pure or near pure, is actually very soft for a metal. It is easily dented, bent, worn down, or even broken. Platinum's density gives it far greater tensile strength than gold, up to 4 times as strong as the average 18 karat white gold. Platinum jewelry is sold as the pure product, with jewelry grade being 95% - 99% pure platinum. This means that platinum jewelry, unlike white gold, will never wear down or 'lose' its color and shine. Platinum does not have to be replated with Rhodium every few years like white gold. Platinum jewelry can be scratched, however it also differs from gold here because when scratched platinum actually separates around the scratch instead of losing material. This means a patient jeweler can actually buff the platinum back into place, repairing the jewelry totally.
Platinum is a popular choice for wedding bands and engagement rings because it is incredibly durable when compared to gold or silver. This means that it literally can last 'forever', making it a more appropriate symbol of matrimony. Gold is also softer, and easier to bend than platinum, and this can make a real difference when diamonds or other gemstones are mounted on the ring. The prongs of an average solitaire or three stone wedding band are millimeters in size, so some jewelers are actually using hardier platinum as the gem/seat prongs, and then making the base ring out of white gold.
If you're considering any white metal jewelry that is going to display diamonds (especially inset diamond or pave diamond), platinum can be an especially good choice. This is because white gold is an alloy of yellow gold and another, whiter metal (usually Rhodium or Nickel). Gold is very soft, so it wears down and the white plating is shed, leaving you with just normal yellow gold (actually somewhat ugly yellow gold because it doesn't wear down consistently). But everyone loves yellow gold right? In the case of a diamond setting, not necessarily; the worn down yellow gold can reflect its yellowish hue into the diamond, making it look muddier, cheaper, and a lower grade than it really is. The problem can be solved with re-plating, but its an expensive, recurring and time-consuming process. Platinum, being white throughout, doesn't have this problem. The benefits are especially obvious on any close-set/pave platinum jewelry, such as platinum wedding bands, platinum earrings, platinum diamond necklaces, and platinum tennis bracelets.
If you're not a fan of traditional jewelry, admire the metal's properties, or simply want to look different, platinum can be a good choice. Another advantage of platinum being pure is that allergies to platinum jewelry are nearly unheard of. Most white gold allergies are people in fact reacting to the plating (Rhodium/Nickel) instead of the gold itself. The fact that it's stronger, lower maintenance, and simply longer-lasting than any other precious metal means that you can be confident in passing down a platinum wedding band or engagement ring for generations to come.
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