Platinum belongs to the family of noble metals. Although this categorization refers to platinum being inert and highly resistant to corrosion, the name is apt nonetheless: King Louis XV of France declared platinum, due to its extreme scarcity, the only metal fit for a king, and had his crown made of platinum as a result. So rare is platinum on our planet that it actually exists in higher quantities on the moon and in meteorites than on the Earth itself. People mine meteorite impact sites, such as Canada’s Sudbury Basin, for the precious metal, so some Canadian platinum wedding rings are extraterrestrial in origin.
Platinum and Industry
Platinum is highly sought after for its numerous industrial uses, including as a catalyst for hydrogen ignition and ammonia oxidation. Being extremely ductile, platinum is a durable electrical conductor and some platinum compounds are even used in chemotherapy to treat cancer. Because platinum is used so widely in various industries, the amount available for use as wedding finery is extremely small, and jewelry made from the precious metal commands a very high price. Platinum has different working properties than gold, including a higher melt point, requiring craftsmen with a higher level of skill to work it.
Platinum as Wedding Jewelry
Platinum, being a particularly dense metal, feels heavy on the hand when worn and more luxurious than alternatives such as silver or white gold. Despite this, platinum is more malleable than the gold alloys most often used for jewelry, and the platinum wedding rings have been known to show minor scratches and dents after years of daily use. However, platinum loses little to no weight after repeat polishing and day-to-day wear, and a well-made platinum wedding ring will survive generations. Platinum is very resistant to abrasive wear making it an excellent material for the prongs that hold diamonds or gems. Because of its higher cost, but ideal suitability for prongs, jewelry is sometimes made of tough platinum as the setting for a precious stone, saving white gold for the band. Simple, unadorned platinum wedding bands remain popular due to platinum’s luxurious feel, beautiful silvery white color, and excellent resistance to corrosion.
Platinum will not corrode or oxidize when exposed to air or water, even when subject to intense heat and pressure. In the 16th century, Julius Caesar Scalinger, an Italian humanist, described encountering a noble metal in Mexico, “which no fire or Spanish artifice has yet been able to liquefy.” Although it will form a chemical salt if exposed to nitric acid, most people manage to go their entire lives without dipping their hands in acid, so this fate for your platinum wedding ring is easy to avoid. A side benefit of platinum’s non-corrosiveness is its hypoallergenic properties. Those with sensitive skin who are allergic to alloys containing nickel will find their ring fingers pleasantly devoid of irritation when adorned with a platinum wedding ring. Platinum, the noble metal, is a more expensive alternative to white gold but can sometimes be the best choice for your precious wedding jewelry.