What is platinum jewellery?

Platinum, along with silver, palladium, and gold, is considered to be a precious metal. However, it is also the most expensive, the most prestigious, and the most exclusive, due to its many beneficial features. 

In the past, platinum jewellery was only worn by the rich upper classes, but nowadays it’s a lot more accessible to everyone, and the demand for platinum continues to grow. In this article, we’ll be breaking down everything you need to know about platinum and why it’s a great choice for your bespoke jewellery design.

What is platinum?

Platinum usage can be traced as far back as 5000 years ago in ancient Egypt as well as by Inca Indians in South America. By the mid 1800s the use of platinum had increased significantly, and it was eventually categorised as a precious metal. 

More than 60% of the world’s supply of platinum comes from South Africa, and in comparison, to other precious metals, it’s incredibly rare. The total amount of platinum that is mined every year is fifteen times less than gold and one hundred times less than silver.

Platinum has become a top tier option for jewellery, particularly for special items like engagement and wedding rings. It’s a very strong and durable metal that doesn’t corrode, fade, discolour, or generally deteriorate in quality over time, making it an ideal choice for jewellery you’ll wear every day.

What other metals are used with platinum in jewellery?

It’s rare to find platinum jewellery that is 100% pure platinum. This is because it is nearly always combined with other metals, but naturally the higher the percentage of pure platinum there is the more expensive the metal will be. Copper, iridium, rhodium, ruthenium, palladium, and cobalt are the most popular base metals that are used with platinum. Typical hallmarks of platinum are:

  • 950 plat/pt. – the metal contains at least 95% pure platinum and 5% alloy metals
  • 900 plat/pt. – 90% pure platinum and 10% alloy metals
  • 850 plat/pt. – platinum purity of 85% and 15% made up of other metals
  • 800 pt. 200 pd. – 80% pure platinum and 20% palladium
  • No platinum label – less than 50% pure platinum in the metal 

The majority of platinum jewellery is made up of high levels or purity, typically between 85% and 95% is commonly used. To put this into context, 18-carat gold is only 75% pure gold and 14-carat contains 58% gold. By comparison, anything below 80% purity is not classified as platinum.

Why is platinum so expensive?

As previously mentioned, platinum is the priciest of all the precious metals, but there are some good reasons for that. Let’s explore them below:

  • Platinum is significantly denser than gold or silver. It is roughly 60% heavier than 14 carat gold and 40% heavier than 18 carat gold. This extra weight leads to extra cost.
  • Platinum is much harder to come by than other precious metals, with production only taking place in a few locations around the world.
  • Platinum used in jewellery is purer than gold or silver. As we’ve seen, jewellery made of platinum will hold a minimum of 80% purity, whilst pure gold is almost always below 75%.
  • Making jewellery from platinum demands specialised tools, higher temperature levels, and more expertise, which are all contributing factors to the cost of the finished jewellery piece.

Comparing platinum to other white metals

There are a number of white metals used in the jewellery industry that look similar to platinum. These can be less expensive, but you will notice a substantial downgrade in quality. We’ve compared platinum with some of these white metals below, so you can see the difference for yourself.

Platinum vs white gold

White gold has a very similar look to platinum, it's more of a silver colour than a natural white, but it is much less expensive, and their appearance is where the similarities end between these two metals. The first difference is platinum is a natural metal, whereas white gold is an alloy made up of yellow gold and copper or nickel. Therefore, white gold is normally only around 58% pure.

Also, because white gold is plated with rhodium (to give it its white look), over time the plating can wear off and the yellow tint of its original colour begins to show. For this reason, white gold needs new rhodium plating added a minimum of once a year. Comparatively, platinum doesn’t change colour or fade, and it is four times stronger than gold, so it can withstand more wear and tear and not look effected. 

Another important difference to note is that platinum is hypoallergenic whereas white gold can cause metal allergies because of the nickel content. So, although platinum is more expensive than white gold, the advantages it has certainly make it worth the extra bit of money for the best piece of jewellery.

Platinum vs silver

Silver and platinum share a similar colour, but silver is incredibly soft and so less durable than platinum. Every piece of silver jewellery will tarnish over time and need regular maintenance to keep it looking nice. Sterling silver also loses its shape and is not as valuable as platinum. The most attractive thing about silver is its cheaper price tag, but if you’re ultimately going to have to spend money to maintain the jewellery and replace it when it inevitably starts to deteriorate, is it worth it?

Platinum vs palladium

Palladium is quite a new metal on the market that a lot of people might not have heard of. It’s the newest of the precious metals and is from the same family as platinum. Both metals look pretty much identical, although platinum is a bit lighter than palladium. 

They share a number of similarities including being hypoallergenic and free from rust and tarnishing. Palladium is a good option as an alternative to platinum in some cases, but for the most part platinum is still the superior metal for jewellery.

Is platinum worth buying for engagement and wedding rings?

In short, yes. Platinum has become the top choice of metal when it comes to engagement rings and wedding bands and it’s clear to see why. It’s stunning, strong, and long-lasting. When it comes to diamond engagement rings, a platinum setting as two essential benefits: it highlights the beauty of the stone and keeps it well protected.

If you’re looking for a beautiful bespoke engagement ring, Barbara Tipple can help. As an award-winning, professional jeweller with years of experience in the industry her skills in creating personalised handmade engagement rings are unrivalled. Contact us today to arrange a discussion with Barbara and let her turn your ideas into the perfect platinum engagement ring.