The Enduring Beauty of Platinum
It takes a lot to say “forever,’ but when you’re selecting bridal jewelry—or any jewelry, for that matter—it’s important to know that platinum is truly eternal. This noble metal, one of the strongest, natural materials on the planet, is also one of the longest lasting. Jewelry made from platinum will not thin like gold when worn over time. Platinum is also extremely malleable, meaning that it can be made into almost any type of jewelry. And despite its strength, scratches can be polished out of platinum with relatively little loss of material.
What does change, so much for the better, is the surface of fine platinum. Because this pure, white metal is not plated, natural wearing patterns create a soft, rich patina that reveals a degree of authenticity not seen in other metals. Platinum can also be polished back to a brilliant luster at any time, if that is preferred.
Interestingly, platinum, unlike gold, was not a popular jewelry metal until the 19th century, when high-heat torches allowed it to be used more easily in fine jewelry. We owe a debt to the many illustrious jewelers like Faberge, Cartier and Tiffany, who mastered the art of setting diamonds and important precious gemstones with platinum. They paved the way for platinum to be forever associated with the best of the best. Today, it is still the metal of choice for setting exceptional gems, largely because of its tensile strength: Prongs made of platinum lessen the chances of stone loss.
The demand for platinum jewelry has waned only once since the 19th century: During the economic depression of the 1930s and World War II. But consumers had already been warned about the need for platinum during World War I. “The war cannot be won without platinum,” wrote Dr. Charles L. Parsons of the U.S. Bureau of Mines in the January 1918 issue of Housewives Magazine. Declared a strategic metal for wartime use (the platinum in one wedding band, explains Dr. Parsons, can be turned into 100 pounds of nitric acid for explosives), platinum lay dormant for a period of time before it was “rediscovered” in Asia and Europe in the 1960s and 70s. The American platinum jewelry revival began with a return to platinum in bridal jewelry as consumers opted to purchase rings that will last a lifetime—and beyond.
When you purchase platinum, you’re in fine company: the Smithsonian’s Hope Diamond, now in a new design created by jeweler Harry Winston, is set in platinum, as are many of the renowned diamonds in the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom.
Though your own family jewels may be slightly more modest, it is still jewelry to be treasured. For this reason, the eternal strength and beauty of platinum will endure for you and your loved ones and the generations to come.