Platinum: A Metal Fit for Kings

Platinum is a metal favored by jewelers for its durability, malleability and significant weight. It doesn’t tarnish and maintains its natural white color, making it an excellent option for heirloom jewelry. And because it’s long lasting , platinum creates a secure setting for diamonds and gemstones, making it a top choice for engagement and wedding rings to last a lifetime.

However, platinum wasn’t always as readily available for jewelry as it is today. Ancient Egyptians used platinum in jewelry and sarcophagi, but then it disappeared into obscurity until the 1700s. In order to be shaped for casting, platinum needs to be heated to 3,872° F, a challenge that Medieval Europeans were unable to surmount.

(c) GIA & Tino Hammid

Cartier pave round and channel set diamond earrings set in platinum. (c) GIA & Tino Hammid

By the 18th and 19th centuries, advances in technology enabled metal smiths to generate the heat necessary to work with platinum. In the 1780s, King Louis XVI of France declared platinum the “only metal fit for kings” after his jeweler, Marc Etienne Janety, fashioned several platinum pieces for him. Fast forward 100 years, and Peter Carl Fabergé used platinum to create his famous Easter eggs starting in 1884. But it wasn’t until the early 1900s, when Louis Cartier began using platinum to craft jewelry for royalty around the world, that it truly started to gain stature.

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20.02 carat cushion cut pink sapphire set in platinum. Courtesy of Omi Prive.

Today, platinum is associated with style, elegance and timelessness. The metal has a multitude of attractive qualities that helps solidify its prestigious reputation. Many famous gems such as the Hope Diamond are set in platinum, and delicate jewelry designs are often crafted in platinum, which is a testament to its durability and ability to hold precious stones securely. Naturally hypoallergenic, platinum is also ideal for those with sensitive skin.

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“Contempo I” ring constructed from platinum. The ring includes black jade, white diamonds and a faceted Tahitian black pearl. Gift of Mark Schneider.

What do you think platinum’s best qualities are? Tell us about the platinum jewelry pieces you own and why you love them!

Image of Crescent Moon bracelet is a gift of Michael Bondanza, Inc.

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