Pretty in platinum...
Arguably the most well-known luxury metal, platinum is a bright white alloy that mesmerizes jewelry lovers.😊 Platinum has a long history as a desirable material, and even the U.S. military used it for combat activities during WWII. Although platinum looks delicate, it’s incredibly strong and can outlast most metals, making it ideal for heavily worn pieces.
In this article, we will discuss:
- The composition and properties of platinum
- How platinum compares to other white metals
- When to choose platinum for your jewelry
- How to care for platinum
- Where to buy quality platinum pieces
Basics: What is platinum?
What color is platinum?
Platinum metal has a white sheen that compliments all gemstone colors, especially the sparkle of a white diamond. It’s often used in wedding jewelry due to its luxe shine and wearability, and its color does not fade over time.
While its look is very similar to white gold, platinum is mined at about 10% the rate of gold. As such, it’s a rare and precious metal that many value for its scarcity.
What is the composition of platinum?
Platinum is an “alloy”, which means it’s a combination of metals. However, unlike other alloys, platinum is typically 95% pure. The other 5% is usually copper, titanium, palladium, iridium, or rhodium. Because platinum is so strong, it’s also not very malleable, so designers include other metals in platinum alloy to make it easier to work with.
How can I know how pure my platinum is?
Designers try to keep platinum pieces as pure as possible for the sake of durability. However, not all jewelers use 95% platinum, and there are ways you can ensure you buy quality products the next time you shop.
Jewelry makers use “hallmarks” that indicate metal purity, and you’ll find them on the inside of ring bands, near the clasps of platinum chains, or on the back of pendants.
📝A 95% platinum piece will have a 950, PLT, PLAT, or PLATINUM hallmark to designate its purity. This means the piece is 950 parts platinum per thousand, or 950/1,000. But, not all companies use 95% platinum.
Here are a few other platinum hallmarks you may see while shopping:
|950, PLAT, PLT, or PLATINUM
|Less than 50% platinum
Exploring the properties of platinum
Platinum is an exceptional metal across the board, but there are a few characteristics that make it stand out from the crowd. Here are a few platinum properties that make it a great choice for jewelry:
Platinum is very durable, but not in the way most people think. When shoppers purchase platinum, they often assume it does not scratch. In reality, platinum is softer than some metals and does scratch with rough contact.
⚠️However, no platinum is lost in the scratching process. Rather, the metal just moves from one spot to another, meaning large blows do not cause any metal loss. Plus, this movement of metal is easily remedied with a deep polish, whereas other metals may require replacement.
Additionally, platinum is very dense. If you place a thick platinum band in one hand and an equally thick gold band in the other, you may find the platinum band is noticeably heavier.⚖️ This density is important for diamond settings, as the platinum provides increased security that holds the stones in place with less fear of snagging and breaking a prong.
Platinum is a tarnish-resistant metal, so there’s no need to worry about dulling your piece’s shine. Tarnish occurs when metal is exposed to water, air, and general moisture over time. When this happens, the metal oxidizes, and a darker sheen appears on the surface of the piece. On top of being incredibly durable, platinum will keep its color for a lifetime.
Finally, platinum is hypoallergenic. Because it’s 95% pure, platinum does not have the nickel impurities that cause other metals to irritate your skin. This means platinum is ideal for extended, comfortable wear!
Platinum vs. Other white metals
So how does platinum compare to other white metals? Let’s take a look at how these metals stack up:
Platinum vs. White gold
What’s the difference between white gold and platinum?
Both metals have a beautiful white gold sheen, but platinum tends to shine brighter naturally. White gold is also not hypoallergenic due to the nickel in its alloy, so platinum is a better choice for wearers with allergies.
Although an ounce of gold currently sells for around $1,300 and the price of platinum per ounce is about $850, platinum jewelry costs more than gold jewelry. This is because platinum jewelry is 95% pure, whereas 14K white gold is only 58.8% gold.
Platinum is also naturally durable, whereas gold is malleable. Other metals are added to white gold to create a brighter, stronger alloy, but overall it still falls short compared to platinum’s strength.
Finally, both metals require maintenance, but white gold needs more routine care from a jeweler. Most white gold pieces are coated in rhodium to enhance their white color, and this coating wears off over time. Some people need to rhodium their piece every year, but someone with a platinum piece may only need a professional polishing every other year or so. Maintenance costs can make the initial investment in a high-quality metal worth it!
Platinum vs. Silver
It’s easy to tell the difference between platinum and silver upon first inspection. 🙂Platinum carries an eerie white glow, while silver looks, well, silver! Silver has a beautiful, muted gray-white hue, so it's perfect for white metal loves who want a subtle shine.
Silver is one of the most affordable white metals, and it has one of the highest purity levels as well. The silver standard is 92.5%, almost as high as platinum! However, silver is soft, and it dents and scratches much more easily.
Like white gold, silver is not hypoallergenic, and the copper in its alloy can turn your finger green if you’re not careful. Silver also tarnishes, so it requires tarnish-proof bags for storage unlike platinum.
Platinum vs. Palladium
Palladium is a darker gray than platinum, but it still has a white sheen that’s just as inviting. Plus, palladium is just as pure as platinum at 95% purity.
Palladium falls between white gold and platinum in terms of price. It’s also lighter and harder than platinum, meaning more comfortable wear with fewer scratches.
Finally, because it does not scratch as easily, palladium requires a little less care than platinum. However, similar to platinum, it will develop patina over time and require polishing.
Platinum vs. Stainless steel
If you’re looking for a more casual metal for your jewelry, stainless steel is a great choice. Although it’s nearly as bright as platinum, it’s just a fraction of the cost!
Stainless steel can also be finished in so many different ways. You can have polished steel, brushed or reflective finishes, or anything in between.
When it comes to white metals, stainless steel is the most durable option. Ranking higher than the other contenders on the Mohs scale, stainless steel even beats platinum in terms of hardness.
Pros and cons
Should you choose platinum? Let’s wrap up the pros and cons of platinum:
- Platinum is 95% pure, so you’re getting a lot of precious metal for your money.
- When it comes to durability, platinum is incredibly strong.
- Platinum is hypoallergenic and does not tarnish.
- Of the white metals, platinum has the brightest white color.
- Platinum does not scratch easily and requires maintenance less frequently.
- Due to its density, platinum is great for diamond settings, as a platinum prong is much stronger than most alternatives.
- Save your pennies, because platinum is more expensive than other white metals.
- Platinum will patina over time, and this can mean regular polishing by a jeweler if you’re not careful with your jewelry.
When should you choose platinum for your jewelry?
So how can you decide whether platinum is the right metal for your jewelry needs?
Given the pros above, it seems like a worthwhile investment! But, taking your situation into account is important in deciding whether platinum will suit your needs. Here are some things to consider when deciding on platinum:
Jewelers and retailers can help you choose
Many leading retailers and jewelry designers craft their pieces in platinum, and it’s easy to see why they trust the durable metal.
If you’re looking for more advice regarding whether platinum is right for you, think about discussing your concerns with a jeweler or jewelry service professional. Many retailers, such as James Allen and Blue Nile, also offer 24/7 chat services, hotlines, virtual appointments, and more to address your jewelry questions with a trained professional.🕵🏻♂️
Engagement and wedding jewelry
If you’re shopping for engagement or wedding jewelry, platinum is often a recommended metal option.
Platinum engagement rings are built to last, and the white sheen of the metal enhances the brilliance of diamonds. Platinum wedding bands are equally sturdy, and the elegant alloy looks great on both men and women. Men’s platinum wedding bands often have a beautiful brushed finish.
Platinum settings are great for nontraditional brides as well, as platinum can complement any gemstone. Try a sapphire or aquamarine as your center stone to amplify your look!
Consider HOW you wear your jewelry
Most importantly, think about how you wear your jewelry daily.
Overall, if you’re looking for a piece that you can wear only for special occasions, platinum is probably not the best option. You can find stunning pieces in white gold for a much more reasonable price.
But, if you’re looking for a piece you can wear regularly that will hold up over time, platinum is a great option. Whether you plan to wear your piece to work, at family events, or even just at home, platinum is a metal that will last a lifetime.
However, how rough you are with your jewelry will dictate how much maintenance it requires. If you prefer polished platinum but hit your ring on other surfaces daily, you’ll be paying for polishing services more frequently!
Why do I need to clean my platinum jewelry?
If platinum is so sturdy, why do you need to clean and buff it? Platinum develops “patina” over extended periods of wear. Patina occurs when small surface scratches on platinum bands move the metal around, causing a loss of sheen. The metal becomes less radiant, but some wearers prefer the antique look of platinum patina!
If you’re not a fan of patina, you’ll need to care for your platinum piece both at home and with professional services to ensure your band stays shiny. Plus, if there are diamonds on your platinum piece, they require routine maintenance to make sure they’re not loose, damaged, or missing.
Routine cleaning at home
Cleaning your platinum jewelry at home is simple! Just mix a small amount of dish liquid with warm water, and drop your jewelry into the mixture. After 20 to 40 minutes, remove your jewelry and gently scrub all surfaces with a soft toothbrush. If you have any diamonds, make sure you carefully clean around all crevices in the setting, where dirt and other substances tend to linger.
Once you’ve scrubbed away the dirt, rinse your platinum in warm running water and dry it with a lint-free cloth. Finally, to remove patina at home, buff your piece with a soft cloth or polishing cloth. When you’re not wearing your piece, be sure to store it in a soft cloth bag or fabric-lined jewelry box.
Professional cleanings in-store
Admittedly, exclusively cleaning your piece at home won’t keep the patina away forever. Depending on the extent of your wear, amount of diamonds, etc., your piece will require professional cleanings with your trusted jeweler yearly or every other year.
Professional cleanings are typically included as part of your service package when you purchase a platinum piece. Additionally, your jeweler may also cover polishing services, which are the key to removing patina and making your platinum piece look brand new. Polishing your jewelry moves all of the platinum back into place, restoring its original shine.
Finally, professional cleanings are important for diamond maintenance, and a jeweler should check your diamond and its prongs at least yearly to prevent loosening. Make sure you purchase your platinum piece from a jeweler you trust who offers extensive service plans to protect your jewelry.
Where should you buy platinum jewelry? Our recommendations
It’s important to buy platinum from a reputable retailer who can offer you the services necessary for the long-term maintenance of your new piece.
Here are a few retailers we recommend for your next platinum purchase:
A fan among loose diamond buyers, James Allen also offers quality platinum rings for your next purchase. James Allen offers a lifetime warranty on all jewelry, and free cleanings every 6 months are included in your service package. They also provide free ring resizing within a year of purchase and free shipping!🙂
Another online retail titan, Blue Nile has a beautiful selection of platinum jewelry at affordable prices. Just look at these amazing platinum earrings or this platinum bracelet! Enjoy a lifetime warranty for all jewelry, and complimentary cleaning and inspection services for all diamond rings. For a unique piece, try their engraving services and special order engagement rings.
Brilliant Earth is the perfect option for platinum buyers who want to remain eco-friendly. Their selection includes stunning platinum necklaces, earrings, and rings. While Brilliant Earth can’t guarantee all of their platinum is recycled due to low availability, they try their best to mix recycled platinum with suppliers to source their platinum sustainably. Brilliant Earth does offer a lifetime warranty on all products, and they donate 5% of net profits to human rights and environmental causes.
Trusted local jeweler
If you’d rather not buy from an online retailer, find a jeweler near you that you trust to provide quality platinum and customer service. Ask about their service plans and find a jeweler who can offer a lifetime warranty or free cleanings and yearly polishing for the lifetime of your piece. Also, make sure you check the hallmarks on their platinum pieces to verify you are buying high-quality metal and not a platinum mix.
Having a local jeweler to visit any time you have a question or concern can really bring buyers peace of mind. It’s great to have a jewelry professional who can offer advice and guidance on any subsequent pieces as well!
Choosing the right metal for your needs
Platinum is an exceptional metal that’s perfect for jewelry you plan to keep forever. With its enduring strength, illuminating shine, and universal appeal, platinum dazzles in any setting. If you’re looking to create a lasting piece, consider paying the extra cost for platinum.
However, if you want a unique look, consider yellow or rose gold as colorful alternatives. Or, if you want a silvery shine without the hefty price tag, try white gold or palladium for a similar look. Whatever you choose, make sure your metal suits your jewelry needs.
Looking for more information about the other metals mentioned in this article? Consider reading more about white, rose, and yellow gold on our website!