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Platinum, like gold, has a long and distinguished history and remains one of the world's most rare metals. The annual worldwide production of platinum amounts to some 160 tons, compared to about 1500 tons of gold. It can only be found in very few regions of the world - South Africa being the leading platinum-producing country. Platinum is far more valuable than gold, and more expensive.
Platinum has become increasingly popular in recent years because of its beauty and durability. It has a rich, silvery-white color and a deep luster. It's unique cool white sheen makes platinum a popular choice for settings, as it accentuates the sparkle and brilliance of a diamond like no other. Platinum is often the precious metal of choice to produce the finest jewelry with the most valuable gems, as it is very tarnish and scratch-resistant.
The most appealing characteristic of platinum is its strength and durability - it is by far the strongest and most durable of the precious metals. Each time other metals are scratched or polished, a small amount of metal is lost. Eventually, prongs of yellow and white gold may wear down enough that they must be reinforced with more metal for safety. Not with platinum. It may scratch and leave a mark on the metal, but it will not chip or splinter easily. Platinum is actually an alloyed group of six closely related metals - platinum, palladium, rhodium, ruthenium, iridium, and osmium. Today it is often alloyed with titanium and copper. Most platinum jewelry is 95% pure platinum mixed with 5% iridium, palladium, or ruthenium alloy for added strength. It can also be 90% pure platinum with 10% alloys. To guarantee its quality, each piece of jewelry should be stamped with "950 Plat" indicating 95% purity or "900 Plat" indicating 90% purity. Because of its purity, platinum is ideal for people who are allergic to other metals. It rarely causes a reaction.
Pricing Compared to gold, platinum is heavier, more rare, and more valuable. It is also more durable than gold and sold in purer form. Platinum is not sold by karat weight. Platinum's density and weight give it a different feel from other precious metals and is almost twice as heavy as 14kt gold. This heaviness when used in fine jewelry is one of platinum's strongest selling points, as people tend to equate weight with value.
Care Unique to platinum, it may develop a patina (or gentle sheen) if worn daily. Many people like this look. However, if you prefer the original reflective finish a jeweler can polish it and restore the original shine. Soaking platinum jewelry in a mild solution of soap and warm water and gently scrubbing it with a soft-bristled brush is usually all that is required to maintain the metal's luster. To keep your jewelry shining and scratch-free, store them in their original boxes, soft cloth bags, or a fabric-lined jewelry box. To prolong platinum's unique white luster, keep your platinum jewelry away from harsh chemicals such as chlorine, ammonia, and cleaning fluids.