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Platinum Guild: Dispelling the Top 5 Platinum Myths

Platinum Guild International has found that many retail salespeople, as well as end consumers, are stymied by certain untruths about platinum. The organization has created the following list of common myths to help retailers educate their clients, thus yielding sales. Read about additional platinum educational resources here.

1. Myth: White gold is just as good as platinum. It looks the same.

This is a common myth/incorrect belief on the part of retail jewelry sales professionals and some consumers. While white gold and platinum may appear similar when viewed in a jewelry store showcase, they are very different metals. One of the most important differences is color. Platinum is a naturally white metal that will never fade or change color over time. There is actually no such thing as “white gold” — gold is yellow. Period. When yellow gold is mixed with other white metals and then coated with rhodium (a platinum group metal) it appears white, but the rhodium plating will eventually wear away revealing a yellowish color. White gold jewelry must be re-plated consistently to maintain its white appearance.

There’s also a big difference in purity. 14K white gold is 58.5 percent gold (18K is 75 percent) compared with platinum jewelry, which is 90-95 percent platinum. Additionally, a lot of white gold jewelry is alloyed with nickel, which is known to cause allergic reactions in people with sensitive skin.

Finally, platinum is 30 times more rare than gold, making a gift of platinum jewelry something truly unique and special.

 

2. Myth: Platinum scratches and gets dull.

This is probably the most frequently recurring misconception about platinum. Yes, platinum scratches — and so does EVERY other precious metal. Let’s look at gold — when gold scratches, microscopic bits of the metal flake away with each scratch (much like chalk on a chalkboard does). Eventually, the prongs that hold diamonds or gemstones may have to be re-tipped and the ring may eventually need to be replaced. When platinum scratches, it’s like running your finger across a bar of clay - the metal just moves to the sides of the scratch, so to speak. And whenever platinum is scratched, the surface of the ring actually “work hardens,” meaning the surface gets harder with each scratch. Those scratches eventually meld together into a warm, satiny finish known as “patina.” That patina is the mark of authenticity for platinum, much like the rich look of fine leather as it’s worn over time. It’s a sought-after quality, not something that should be considered a negative — however, platinum can always be polished to restore a bright, shiny, as-new look with very little metal loss.

 

3. Myth: Platinum is too soft.

Misleading. The “hardness” of precious metals is graded on a scale and the actual hardness of both gold and platinum will vary depending on the alloys and manufacturing process. Because of platinum’s density (it’s 40 percent heavier than 18K gold and 60 percent heavier than 14K) it is the most durable of all precious metals and the reason why it’s the most secure setting for diamonds. Platinum does not have “memory,” meaning that when a jeweler bends the prongs over a diamond they stay put. Gold has metal memory and will resist any movement. Blunt trauma or force could potentially crack a gold prong, whereas platinum will merely bend. And, when a jeweler repairs the prongs and bends them back into shape, that action work hardens the prongs and makes them stronger. It’s the reason why most of the world’s most significant diamond jewelry pieces are set in platinum.

 

4. Myth: Platinum is too difficult to work with.

Absolutely not. However, bench jewelers who work in stores that don’t carry platinum may not feel comfortable working with it. Platinum's melting point is much higher than gold, thus requiring specific equipment to work with the metal. As a result, if a store does not regularly work with platinum, they may not have this equipment and may avoid offering platinum to their customers. There are great educational resources available to bench jewelers (at www.platinumlearning.com). Once a bench jeweler is comfortable working with platinum, most agree that it is the material they like working with best because of its malleability.

 

5. Myth: Platinum is too expensive.

While a platinum ring might be slightly more expensive, it delivers great value to consumers. Current metal prices are historically low for platinum and it’s a great time for consumers to buy platinum, from a price standpoint. The reason it will still cost a few more dollars than gold is because platinum is much more dense (it’s heavier) and is much more pure than gold (90-95 percent platinum vs. 58.5-75 percent gold). Once you take wear and maintenance into account, platinum is a much better value for the money.