The price of platinum today is $1427.00 an ounce. Gold is $1366.75 an ounce. It has been quite a ride for precious metals in the last couple of years. It has been a challenge to manage those costs in the jewelry business.
Platinum is one of those supercharged words that always signified the best of the best. Jewelry made of platinum has a status and image unlike any other. This is nothing new, platinum’s desirability and use go back thousands of years.
The metal was coveted by the ancient Egyptians, discovered centuries later by the Incas and prized by members of the French royal court. Before its was declared off-limits during World War II, platinum was king in important jewelry the world over. Platinum ruled the Edwardian age of jewelry. Its beauty, versatility and style were “rediscovered” in the early 1990s, and today, one in four brides chooses platinum for her wedding rings.
One of the wonderful things about platinum is its purity. When you buy 18 karat gold, you are getting 18/24ths, or 75% gold. When you buy platinum, you are getting 85% to 95% pure platinum. Most jewelry sold in the US is 85% to 95% pure platinum and will be marked with the appropriate stamp. If a piece is at least 95% pure, it may be simply labeled “PLATINUM”. This high purity make the metal tarnish resistant and hypoallergenic as well.
Platinum, Jade, Diamond and Enamel Earrings
Art Deco carved hardstone and diamond bracelet, French, circa, 1925. Photo courtesy of Sotheby’s.
Cabochon emerald and diamond ring, JAR, Paris. Photo courtesy of Sotheby’s.
Alloy Weight % Pt Weight % additive Suitability Pt-Palladium 95%-85% 5%-15% Pt900-Pd (the 900 being parts per thousand) forms a great compromise between hardness and workability, it can be cast, welded and soldered and is favored in Japan and China. Pt850-Pd is preferred by chain makers because of its higher ductility. Pt-Cobalt 95% 5% This alloy is easily cast and produces hard, durable jewelry which has been favored in Europe. Pt-Iridium 95%-90% 5%-10% Traditionally Pt900-Ir was the alloy of choice in the US. It can be cast, welded, machined and stamped. It is ductile and malleable, can be hardened through working and doesn’t oxidize. Recently Pt950/Ir has become more popular in the States. Pt-Copper 97%-95% 3%-5% Platinum-copper alloys can be readily machined or worked by hand but are not as suitable for casting. Pt-Ruthenium 95% 5% Platinum-Ruthenium has good all-round machining properties and is well-suited to high volume manufacturing processes. It is widely used for the manufacturing of wedding bands in the US and favored by Swiss watch makers.
Platinum is also one of the rarest precious metals on earth and is found in only a few locations. The most vital and principal deposits of platinum are based in the United States, South America, South Africa, Russia and Canada. South Africa and Russia are probably the two largest producers right now.