Platinum

Platinum, like gold, has a long and distinguished history. Its use began in antiquity and it has undergone a resurgence in popularity over the last 200 years. Platinum was held in high esteem during early Egyptian times. Native people in South and Central America worked it as early as 100 B.C.

The appeal of platinum is in its appearance. Its white luster is unique. It is also the strongest precious metal used in jewelry, and is almost twice as heavy as 14-karat gold. It’s become the new choice for many diamond engagement rings because its luster brings out the brilliance of diamonds far better than gold.

Despite its growing popularity, platinum remains one of the world’s rare metals. The annual worldwide production of platinum amounts to some 160 tons, compared to about 1,500 tons of gold. It can be found in just a handful of regions, and the mining and refining processes are both arduous and time-consuming. For example, in order to extract a single ounce of platinum, about 10 tons of ore need to be mined. After that, the refining process takes five months.

Today, it is often alloyed with copper and titanium. It’s the only precious metal used in fine jewelry that is 90% to 95% pure, largely hypoallergenic, and tarnish-resistant. Look for platinum jewelry marked 900Pt, 950 Plat, or Plat.

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