“Platinum is a very pleasant, sensual metal. It’s like a panther — a strong, sensuous, moving creature,” says jewelry artist Naomi Sarna who notes that one of the first things that attracted her to platinum is the way it feels.
A metal that has mystified people throughout the ages, platinum was found in ancient Egypt when it was used, along with other metals, to adorn the casket of the daughter of the King of Thebes. Meanwhile over in South America, the pre-Incans were fabricating ceremonial jewelry from the precious white metal. Until the early 1800s, Colombia was a major source of platinum and when the Conquistadors went to South America looking for gold, they found platinum instead. Unaware of its desirability and value they called it Platina meaning “little silver” and tossed it into the river as junk.
Platinum became popular for jewelry during the early 1900s when high-heat torch technology was invented that could melt the metal, which has an exceptionally high melting point. Cartier, Tiffany, and Fabergé, the finest jewelers of the era, used platinum establishing its status as the premier metal.
20th Century Platinum
Moving into the 20th century, platinum popularity grew and it gained the recognition that it rightfully deserved. During the Edwardian era, jewelers created very fine, delicate jewelry from the precious white metal, which was popular until World War II when its use was banned except for strategic war purposes. In the 1950s platinum became the metal of choice for very high-end jewelry and platinum maintained that reputation for the next couple of decades. In the 1990s Platinum became a chic fashion option for everyday jewelry as people began to resonate with its quality.
“Due to platinum’s molecular construction, I can make slimmer pieces of jewelry with elegant lines that will hold up well because it’s harder and more durable,” comments Sarna, who notes that when designing with platinum it is important to make sure that the piece does not become too heavy.
The Noble Metal
Over the years, platinum has become known as the noblest of metals and it has many distinctive characteristics that have earned it that title. Its weight, or density, is one of those traits. Platinum has a heft that you can feel when you hold it in your hand, it has a weightiness that feels very solid when you are holding it. The natural white color of platinum is another one of its distinguishing features.
“I love the color of platinum. It has a beautiful gray-white color,” comments Sarna. “It’s a neutral color that allows the color of the gemstones that I use to really shine through. And it enhances the color of the stones. Platinum is a warm, supportive foundation for colored gemstones, it really lets them shine.”
The Epitome of Luxury
Among its many attributes, platinum is also a very strong, durable metal that is easily passed through the generations intact. All metals wear away with use, but most actually lose little pieces when scratched which leads to the metal thinning out over time. According to Platinum Guild International, platinum does not lose metal when scratched. Instead, when platinum is scratched it actually changes the molecular structure of the metal. The atoms on the surface of the metal condense, which results in a phenomenon known as “work hardening”. What that means is that each time the metal is scratched the surface becomes stronger and a beautiful patina is formed.
“Platinum epitomizes luxury, quality, and authenticity. It ensures the piece will be durable and resistant to wear, making it the perfect choice for his and her everyday jewelry,” concludes Jenny Luker, President, Platinum Guild International, USA. “Its naturally white color serves as the perfect frame to accentuate the details of luxury designs.”
by Amber Michelle
Visit the Platinum Guild International USA’s selection of designer jewelry in their platinum jewelry gallery.