Platinum is an elegant, rare and versatile metal that has exploded in popularity for jewelry in recent years. Its signature brilliant white luster is a result of its incredible purity and is the ultimate backdrop for reflecting a diamond's radiance. Generally, platinum is 95% pure—compared with 18K gold, which is 75% pure. This purity makes platinum hypoallergenic, meaning it won't irritate sensitive skin.
Platinum is also prized for its eternal quality, resisting fading and tarnishing (although it does develop a lovely patina that may be polished out if you prefer) to look stunning for a lifetime of daily wear. This durability is the result of platinum's density and weight. Platinum alloy is virtually anticorrosive, having a melting point of 3,215 degrees Fahrenheit.
Rather than wearing away with a scratch, platinum does not lose volume but is merely displaced. Thus, impressions and scratches may appear on platinum, but it remains intact as an eternal symbol.
Also revered for its great pliability, platinum is so pliable that one gram of it can be drawn out to a fine wire more than one mile long! This pliability creates incredible flexibility in jewelry design, which other precious metals do not have.
Platinum is the most rare of the precious metals, found only in a few places on Earth. Thirty-five times more rare than gold, it has been said platinum is so scarce that if all of it in the world were poured into one Olympic-sized swimming pool, it would be barely deep enough to cover your ankles. The amount of gold in the world would fill more than three pools that size.
The supply of and demand for platinum is tight and getting tighter all the time. If platinum mining were to stop today, already-mined reserves would be gone within a year. Gold reserves on the other hand would last nearly 25 years.
About 90% of all platinum comes from South Africa and Russia, and much of it is used in other fields besides jewelry, including industry and medicine. In fact, platinum plays an important role in the production of about 20% of all consumer goods.
Over the past few decades, platinum's popularity in wedding bands, bridal jewelry and other jewelry has grown exponentially. Today, platinum is a favorite precious metal among women and men alike.
Japanese consumers buy approximately 48% of all platinum jewelry—a much larger number in the past 20 years. Chinese and North American consumer demand has made for double-digit growth rates in recent years, adding up to more than 40% of the world's platinum jewelry.
Platinum is also recognized as an investment, as are other precious metals. In addition to being a stable and secure investment, platinum offers the potential for profit as its demand increases.
As early as 1200 B.C. Egyptians imported gold with traces of platinum, which they made into jewelry. In 100 B.C., Incas used platinum to create ceremonial jewelry. Then, platinum jewelry all but disappeared until European explorers landed in the New World. Spanish conquistadors found reserves of platinum in 1590; they called it “platina,” meaning “little silver.” Again, platinum all but disappeared from history, resurfacing again in the 1700s when it arrived in Europe. In 1751, platinum was classified as a precious metal. In the 1780s, France's King Louis XVI declared that platinum was the only metal fit for kings.
In the 1800s, several major reserves of platinum were discovered, causing the metal to grow in popularity. In the early 1900s, Louis Cartier was the first person in modern times to create platinum jewelry, which King Edward VII of England declared “the jewelry of kings and the king of jewelers.” Furthermore, platinum became a popular choice for
“mourning jewelry,” which was trendy after the Titanic sank.
German geologist Hans Merensky discovered the world's largest platinum reserve in 1924 near Johannesburg, South Africa, inspiring the platinum industry as it exists today. In the 1930s, platinum became a Hollywood favorite when actresses Jean Harlow and Marlene Dietrich wore platinum jewelry. Queen Elizabeth was crowned with a platinum crown and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor exchanged platinum Cartier wedding bands. In 1967, Elvis and Priscilla Presley exchanged platinum wedding bands. Today, platinum is a premiere choice for wedding bands for men and women alike.