Platinum is considered to be the most luxurious and expensive material commonly used in jewelry, but many shoppers still don’t understand exactly what is platinum. This precious metal not only offers a handsome and classic look, but it is incredibly rare and surprisingly durable. Here are four things to consider when buying platinum jewelry.
Platinum is expensive for a reason
What is platinum, exactly? Platinum is an extremely rare metal that is naturally white and lustrous in appearance. Not only is platinum one of the rarest materials found on earth, but it is incredibly difficult to mine. Platinum is a member of the platinum group metals or PGMs, six elements that share a number of properties and characteristics that also includes palladium. Multiple PGMs are often found in the same mineral deposits, and it can be extremely hard to separate platinum from other PGMs in the same ore. Because of the lengthy process of trial and error that it took to isolate platinum in its pure form, King Louis XVI famously declared it the only metal fit for a king.
Platinum is surprisingly durable
For some reason, many people don’t realize how incredibly durable platinum is. Perhaps some assume it has the same naturally soft composition as gold, but that could not be further from the truth. While considerably malleable and ductile, platinum is also dense and hard. Unlike softer metals like gold, platinum does not lose surface volume when scratched. Instead, material is moved about the surface of platinum jewelry, leading to an antiqued patina look over time. Most platinum owners consider this signature patina to be part of platinum’s charm. Since platinum is naturally white, it never has to be re-plated like white gold. Platinum is also very resistant to corrosion and tarnish, making it extremely easy to care for.
There is such a thing as platinum fashion jewelry
When looking for items of fashion jewelry, most shoppers don’t even realize that there are platinum items within their budget. The most common grades of platinum seen in higher end jewelry are 90% or 95% pure platinum (by weight, not volume), and are denoted by a hallmark of 900 or 950, respectively. 900 Platinum is oftentimes vintage or antique, and can often offer better pricing than newer platinum jewelry that is 95% pure. Of course, other options like 850 platinum (85% pure, often seen in vintage items originating from the United Kingdom) and 999 platinum (generally designated for the highest of budgets) are also available.
However, there is a third option for those looking for lower pricing for fashion jewelry: platinum plated jewelry. What is platinum plated jewelry? As with any other plated jewelry, a thin layer of platinum is applied to cover a less expensive material. Oftentimes sterling silver is used as a base metal, which retains the white metal look as well as a certain degree of quality. For many shoppers, platinum plated jewelry strikes the perfect balance between luxury and affordability.
You can save money when buying pure platinum – if you’re patient
Most people don’t consider buying pure platinum simply because the pricing can tend to exclude most budgets. However, if you’re determined to purchase a piece of non-plated platinum jewelry and your budget is almost there, consider waiting it out a little. Platinum pricing is far more volatile than gold, and can fluctuate somewhat dramatically with the market. Because it has so many industrial applications, demand for platinum can dive drastically during a recession and soar with a bull market. Thus, the best time to purchase platinum jewelry is generally during times of economic stress.
Author Bio: Tanya Zilinskas Naouri writes articles on platinum and other precious metals for MensJewelryStore.com.