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Jewelry Metal Guide: Platinum

Traditionally, iron, copper, silver and gold were the key metals that were being used for jewelry manufacturing. Among these, iron and copper and to some extent silver, were jewelry metals that were widely utilized due to their affordability. Gold, on the other hand, has been in demand mainly as a luxury metal due to its premium value. In recent years though, another white metal – platinum – has risen to prominence as the metal of choice for precious and high end jewelry.

Platinum has been around for several centuries. However, due to its rarity in nature and high melting point of 3221.6 degrees Fahrenheit, its use in jewelry was almost impossible until the 19th century.

Interesting Trivia: The ancient Egyptians knew how to melt platinum – they used it in combination with gold for jewelry. However, when the Spanish re-discovered platinum in South America in the 17th century, they discarded it since they were not able to not melt it using their techniques available at that time. King Louis XVI, on the other hand, declared platinum as the one metal fit for use by royalty!
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Only around the turn of the 20th century did scientists find a way to achieve the high temperatures necessary to make platinum malleable. Once that happened,

With technological advancements, scientists were finally able to achieve high temperatures necessary to melt platinum in the 20th century. Since then, this beautiful white metal took off and people around the world started seeking jewelry made from platinum.

Perhaps the most attractive feature of platinum is its ability to retain its shine and luster for life. It does not get affected by the atmosphere and it is extremely strong. While silver and gold tend to dull over time, platinum manages to keep its original sheen for years. Furthermore, platinum far exceeds gold in weight.

In terms of metal purity, platinum jewelry is graded slightly differently than gold jewelry. Unlike gold, which has multiple purity levels ranging from 24 karat to 10 karat, platinum does not have such classification. Most jewelry items made from platinum contains between 85 percent and 97 percent of platinum.

Metals that are alloyed with platinum for making of jewelry include Palladium, Iridium, Copper and Ruthenium. In terms of marking and identification, most platinum jewelry come marked with the certain universally accepted symbols – PLATINUM, PLAT or Pt. Often, it is succeeded by numbers – 999, 950, 900, or 850 – indicating the purity of the platinum used in the jewelry.
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Through its history, platinum has been used for many different jewelry and non-jewelry applications. Even today, it has many industrial and military uses. However, platinum is mainly used for making jewelry items such as wedding bands and engagement rings. Platinum love bands, studded with real diamonds are highly in fashion these days.

Hard Fact: As a rare metal, platinum is very tough. And therefore, many people prefer it over gold. Compared to approximately 2000 tons of gold mined every year, only around 150 tons of platinum is mined. This makes platinum rarer and more expensive compared to gold.

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