Colour: Pale grey/silver
Moh's Hardness: 3.5
Platinum is often considered the king of precious metals due to its impressive density, malleability, hardness, purity and rarity. While it is the rarest of all the precious metals on earth, platinum exists in abundance on the moon and in meteorites. The name platinum comes from the Spanish word ‘platina’ which translates to ‘small silver’ and today it’s name is synonymous with quality and prestige.
The ancient Egyptians used platinum in jewellery and sarcophagi around 700 BC, while ancient South American civilisations, such as the Incas, used platinum and gold to create nose rings and other items of ceremonial jewellery. The use of platinum ceased during the Medieval period as the high melting temperature of this metal proved too challenging in an age where so many ancient technologies were lost. When the Spanish conquistadors arrived in the New World in the 1600s they came across platinum but misidentified it as an inferior metal and threw it back. It wasn’t until the mid 1700s that platinum was recognised as a new element and used successfully again. Today, many of the world’s most famous gemstones are set in platinum, including the Hope Diamond.
Platinum is a very hard wearing metal that is ideal for gem setting and the production of jewellery. Like silver and gold, it can be scratched with wear but unlike these metals, the scratch does not wear the metal away, it just displaces it. So over many years of wear, platinum will be more durable than gold or silver and it is the only precious metal not to tarnish in any way. It is also a hypoallergenic metal, making it ideal for those with sensitive skin.
The best way to care for your platinum jewellery is to store it separately to other pieces when not being worn to avoid scratching. Clean by soaking the piece in warm soapy water, using a soft brush to dislodge any built up grime, and dry with a soft cloth. A jewellery polishing cloth is also a good way to restore the shine to platinum. Treated with care, platinum jewellery should last a lifetime.