What is Platinum?
Platinum is a chemical element with an atomic number of 78. It appears on the periodic table as Pt among a group of heavy metals known as the platinum group. This element is characteristic of a high density, superior malleability and ductility, a high melting point, a resilience to wear, oxidation, and tarnish, and an attractive grey-white appearance that makes it a popular choice for jewelry.
The word “platinum” is derived from the spanish term, “platina del Pinto”. This translates to “little silver of the Pinto River”. It was first identified as such in the fifteen hundreds when it was found in Colombia’s Rio Pinto. The Spanish explorers, not yet recognizing the great potential of the metal, deemed it to be an inferior form of silver.
Platinum is highly valuable, representing one of the more expensive of the precious metals. A big part of this is the metal’s great rarity. At only 0.003 ppm (parts per million) in the Earth’s crust, platinum is even harder to find than gold. In a given year, the mining industry’s platinum production came out to less than a tenth of its gold production.
Another big factor in platinum’s high value is the great demand for the metal. In addition to its popularity for jewelry, it also has many practical industrial applications. In fact, it is estimated that roughly a full fifth of everything we use requires platinum in its production, either as part of the product itself or as part of the manufacturing process. Some of the bigger applications of platinum include its use in automobile exhaust systems, oil refineries, computer components, glassmaking equipment, fuel cells, and even anti-cancer drugs.
The world’s most significant platinum deposits appear in South Africa and Russia, though other deposits are found in the United States, Canada, Brazil, Peru, New Zealand, and Finland, Ireland, Borneo, Madagascar, and Whales.
Platinum is a very popular metal for jewelry. People love it for its natural beauty, its impressive durability, and the rarity of the metal.
This metal has a number of advantages when it comes to jewelry. First of all, its color never fades or tarnishes. While white gold will need to be given a new coat of rhodium every twelve to eighteen months in order to maintain its white appearance, platinum pieces can potentially be worn for a lifetime without maintenance.
Platinum is also a good choice for people with a nickel allergy. One in five people have a reaction to the nickel impurities that appear in many pieces of gold jewelry. Platinum is not generally alloyed with such metals, and is a naturally hypoallergenic alternative for people with sensitive skin.
Finally, diamonds go very well with a platinum setting. Not only is the superior strength of platinum a good way to keep your gemstone held securely, but the white color of the metal complements a colorless diamond very well. It enhances the brilliance of such diamonds, without reflecting foreign colors into the stone that mask its purity.