Platinum


Platinum is an extremely rare precious metal that is even more rare than gold. It is usually more expensive than gold, but on various occasions in recent history, ruled by the laws of supply and demand, it has been traded lower than gold. Platinum is found in only a few locations around the world, mainly in, South Africa's Merensky Reef, Russia's Ural Mountains and a few small mines in the US and Canada.


Platinum is a strong, dense metal, with a high specific gravity. It is nearly double as heavy as 14 karat gold and features some very unique attributes that make it a very desirable jewellery metal. Due to its softness paired with great strength, platinum doesn’t wear away which means that the original weight that a jewellery piece has at the time of purchase will remain the same, even after decades of intensive wear. This is also the reason why large diamonds are frequently set in platinum, as the prongs will remain strong and the exceptional whiteness of platinum makes the diamond appear more white and hence more valuable. Platinum is incredibly strong, for instance a wire of the thickness of a hair can bear the weight of 1 kg. Platinum is used in jewellry, laboratory equipment, electrical contacts, dentistry, and automobile emissions control devices. The highest amount of the available platinum production is used by the automobile industry followed my the medical sector. Platinum for the use of jewellery only consumes about 5% of the annual platinum production.


The annual worldwide production of platinum amounts to about 160 tons, compared to about 1500 tons of gold. The mining and refining processes are complex and labour intensive. In order to refine one single ounce of platinum from mined ore, about 10 tons of ore need to get processed for ore extraction. The refining process from rock to final platinum ingot involves many mechanical and chemical steps- some of which have to be repeated up to five times until the desired purity is reached. Since platinum is usually found together with platinum group metals (ruthenium, rhodium, osmium, iridium and palladium) which all have very similar properties, the separation of the individual metals is very time consuming. The complete platinum refining cycle takes five months.


Platinum Purity

Platinum, is the purest of all the precious metals used for the fabrication of premium jewellery and is commonly alloyed into a purity of 95%. Platinum has an very bright and white luster, particularly when alloyed with ruthenium. Platinum is harder than gold with a hardness of 4-4.5 on the Mohs hardness scale, equivalent to the hardness of iron, whereas gold has a hardness of 2.5 on the Moh’s scale.


The purity of platinum is not expressed in Karats, but in parts of thousands. Pure platinum is 1000 of 1000 parts pure, whereas the most common alloy used in India is 950/1000 parts pure. Expressed in percentage, this equals a purity of 95%. While some countries permit platinum alloys of as low as 585/1000 parts, the Indian quality standard is set at a minimum of 950 parts.


Platinum is hypoallergenic and fully tarnish-resistant. Platinum jewellery maintains its colour (no plating required), brilliance and weight, even after long and intensive years of wear and is the nearly fully maintenance free, particularly compared to gold and silver, which are both precious metals that need to get re-polished in regular intervals to maintain their shine and luster.


Platinum Versus Gold

Platinum is known for centuries, but in the current high purity form it is a recent precious metal, since the technology of melting and refining platinum to today’s high purity standards is less than 200 years old. The metal has gained increasing popularity because of its amazing strength and appeal. However it has remained an exclusive jewellery material, because its high density, combined with its high purity commands a much higher price, than for instance 18 Karat white gold. Platinum will cost approximately double the amount of an identical design made in 18 Karat white gold.