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Platinum is a pure white metal with a brilliant luster that brings out the true radiance in diamonds, unparallel to any other metal used for the making of jewelry. It is named after the Spanish "plata" (silver) due to its color.
The ancient Egyptians were the first to discover the beauty of platinum and the metal has been popular ever since. In the late 1800s the popularity of platinum jewelry grew rapidly when European royalty started to wear it.
Platinum is the rarest of all precious metals, 30 times rarer than gold. In fact, it is estimated that if all the platinum in the world were poured into one Olympic swimming pool it would be scarcely deep enough to cover your ankles. Gold would fill more than three pools. Approximately 10 tons of raw ore must be mined to produce just one pure ounce of platinum.
More than 90% of the world's platinum production comes from only four mines: three in South Africa and one in Russia. However, virtually all of the platinum mined in South Africa is for industrial use, which leaves only a small portion to be used for in the jewelry market. Platinum is also mined in smaller deposits in United States, Canada, Colombia and Zimbabwe.
Platinum is one of the strongest and most enduring metals. The most appealing characteristic of platinum is in fact its durability. Platinum jewelry is the perfect choice for a lifetime of everyday wear. Its density and weight make it more durable than other jewelry metals. Platinum weighs 60% more than white gold. Each time other metals are scratched or polished, a tiny bit of metal is lost. In fact, eventually, gold prongs may wear down enough that you may need to have them reinforced with more metal for safety.
Unlike gold, a scratch in platinum may leave a mark on the metal, but this metal is so strong that it will not readily chip or splinter away. The scratch on a platinum piece is merely a displacement of the metal and none of its volume is lost. Therefore, jewelers often choose to set diamonds securely in platinum prongs.
Platinum is hypoallergenic so it is safe to wear even on the most sensitive skin. This metal is counted in 1000 parts. Most jewelry pieces are 950 parts per thousand, or 95% pure. For the guaranteed high quality, look for the marks 950Pt, Pt950, 950 Plat, Plat, 900Plat, Pt900, or 900Pt. Platinum can be alloyed with titanium, copper, rhodium, palladium, iridium, osmium, and ruthenium, and is guaranteed to resists tarnish.