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Platinum is a malleable but dense precious metal. According to history, it was mined around 2,500 years ago in Ecuador. At that time, it was used by indigenous people for making jewelry and decorating figurines. In the 1700s, Europe got its first order of platinum from South America. Scientists experimented on it for years, and then it was being used in household decorations and items.
It wasn’t until the 1800s that platinum became a popular metal for jewelry. Jewelers used it to make bracelets, rings, necklaces, and crowns. The wearer of the first platinum crown was The Queen Mother on her husband’s coronation. The crown contained around 3,000 diamonds, which included the Koh-i-Noor (A 17K Turkish Diamond).
By World War I and World War II, platinum had become less popular. A few decades later, it once again dominated the jewelry market. Today, platinum and gold are the most common metals used for wedding and engagement rings. Both metals have a couple of similarities and a few unique differences that set them apart.
Now that you know about the origin of platinum, let’s talk more about the metal in detail:
Is a Ring Made from Pure Platinum?
No. You won’t find any jewelry made with pure platinum because it is too soft. To become strong and a little less malleable, it is mixed with one or two alloys. Unlike gold, platinum’s purity is calculated in 1,000 parts. For example, if you buy a platinum ring, it will be made of 50 parts alloys and 950 parts platinum.
Compared to gold, this calculation makes an 18K platinum ring stronger than an 18K gold ring, which is 250 parts alloys and 750 parts pure gold.
Alloys are commonly mixed with platinum, such as iridium, rhodium, and palladium. A few other alloys seldom found in platinum are cobalt and copper because they are not hypoallergenic.
Platinum vs. Gold: Appearance
The main physical characteristic that differentiates platinum from gold is color. Gold is yellow in its true form and platinum white, so the latter is often referred to as a white metal. If you want to buy a yellow ring, gold is the best option. If you prefer white, white gold and platinum are great options.
A white gold ring is made of gold and multiple alloys. The end product is plated in rhodium, which gives it a shiny, white finish. 14K yellow gold and 14K white gold weigh the same. They both have 58.5% gold, and the rest consists of alloys. The only difference between them is the color.
Understanding Platinum Grades
A piece of jewelry is labeled platinum based on the white metal’s percentage in it. For example, PT850 is 85% platinum, PT900 is 90% platinum and PT950 is 95% platinum. In the US, if a ring or locket is labeled “PL,” “PLAT,” or “Platinum,” it must be 95% platinum (PT950).
If the percentage of platinum is lower than 95%, it must be labeled PT900 (10% iridium) and IRID/PLAT (90% platinum).
Platinum Ring Grades
PL950 is the best platinum grade in wedding rings. Anything less than this will not last long. Following are three of the most common grades in platinum:
PL950/Iridium: 5% iridium and 95% platinum by weight. Any jewelry made in this grade is considered 100% precious iridium.
PL950/Ruthenium: 5% ruthenium and 95% platinum by weight. Any jewelry made in this grade is considered 100% precious ruthenium.
PL950/Cobalt: 5% cobalt and 95% platinum and 5% cobalt by weight. Jewelry made in this grade is not considered 100% precious. However, it is superior to other platinum grades.
Which Platinum Grade Is the Best?
If you are looking for a grade that offers strength, PL950/Iridium is a great choice. However, it is not a high-quality grade. The mixture PL950 offers a soft metal, which bends, pits and scratches easily. After a while, a ring made of PL950 grade might start to look dull.
If you want a durable grade, go for PL950/Ruthenium. This grade jewelry is scratch-resistant, and it only requires minor polish to get back its original shine.
If you want a high-quality grade, PL950/Cobalt is the best platinum alloy if you want a high-quality grade. This grade is durable and strong, it has the brightest shine of all grades, and it can be easily shaped into different designs.
If you have sensitive skin, it’s possible this grade of cobalt might cause an allergic reaction. However, PT950/Cobalt allergic reactions are pretty rare.
Gold vs. Platinum Durability
Platinum Is Durable
Though both platinum and gold are durable and strong precious metals, the former is more durable. Platinum has the perfect chemical structure and extreme density. For example, a platinum ring with a center setting surrounded by prongs is less likely to bend from the edges than a gold ring.
Thanks to platinum’s density, a ring made from this white metal will last a lifetime. And because of its chemical structure, if you hit a platinum ring, you will only bend it slightly rather than scratching it.
Platinum is softer than 14K gold. Yes, it is a strong metal, but it scratches more easily than 14K gold. However, what needs to be noted is that when gold is scratched, it loses some of the metal, and the scratch is visible. On the other hand, when platinum gets scratched, it simply moves from one place to another on the ring.
While you can’t make your platinum jewelry scratch-resistant, you can get it re-polished to restore its original shine. Some people like platinum’s dull look, which is called patina. It gives the ring an aged and antique look, making it priceless.
In conclusion, platinum does not have gold in it. It is an original white metal that contains small amounts of copper, iridium, cobalt, and ruthenium. So, if you are thinking about buying platinum jewelry, make sure it is of PL950/Cobalt grade.