Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Gunmetal Love


I realize the jewelry industry is moving away from 'The Great White Out' trend of platinum and white gold for the past decade or so and moving more towards the warmer colors of yellow and rose gold.  There are even some amazing pieces out there in oxidized sterling silver / gold or a combination thereof.

And, although I too love the trend.  Personally, I'm in the stage of mixing metals right now.  But, I am still a tried and true, die-hard fan of the only precious metal that develops the most amazing gunmetal patina....PLATINUM!  So, why when everyone else is gravitating towards various colors of gold, enamel or sterling is my "daily wear" choice still platinum?  

Raw, platinum ore.

Well, let me list the ways!  

First off, platinum has a long and distinguished history!  It was a jewelry staple when it came to the choices of the wealthy socialites of of the Edwardian and Art Deco periods - the 'Roaring '20s.'  According to Amanda Tropila, Public Relations Coordinator for the Platinum Guild International USA: 

Here is a beautiful example of an Edwardian, circa 1910, diamond, sead pearl, emerald, ruby & platinum necklace courtesy of the Nadine Krakov Collection on 1stDibs.

"The original deco pieces were created in platinum and set with dramatic colored gemstones; typically bearing bold geometric shapes. Platinum was favored for its strength, unfading luster and its malleability, or capability to be implemented into very precise shapes and outlines. 

With the onset of The Great Depression and War World II, the government ceased all non-military uses of platinum because it was needed for weapons and vehicles.  Platinum has some surprising uses, the most prevalent being catalytic convertors for cars.  It is also used in the medical and dental fields due to its hypoallergenic nature."

An 18" platinum snake chain for sale by Eragem, $779.
What is it about platinum that distinguishes it from some of the other precious metals?  Tropila explains, "When scratched, platinum does not wear away, but is merely displaced, which is not the case for other precious metals which will wear away."


Set with cut-cornered step-cut diamond between trapeze stone shoulders, mounted in platinum
signed Tiffany & Co. sold by Sotheby's Auction House.

This fact also explains the higher costs for platinum jewelry than you would traditionally find when purchasing white or yellow gold.  Tropila explains:

"Platinum may cost you more initially [on the front end] but in the [longrun], requires less maintenance.  Platinum is dense and therefore, a platinum engagement ring is compromised of more actual metal than the same in white gold, thus carrying a higher price tag.  However, platinum will not wear away and will not fade.  Your white gold ring, on the other hand, will have to be re-plated periodically to maintain its white color."
Custom platinum wedding ring with a large, center diamond by Rona Fisher Jewelry Design.

Traditionally, platinum seems to have been a precious metal reserved for the biggest purchase in any individual's life - The Engagement Ring.  But have you ever wondered why?  For me, it was simple logic.  An engagement ring, or wedding set, is something that most women wear everyday.  Tropila explained it best, "Bridal jewelry is definitely where platinum is most prevalent.  Its unchanging nature is symbolic of a lasting relationship and, as an engagement ring is one of the most important purchases in one’s life, choosing a metal that will stand the test of time is paramount."

Also from Eragem, is this wedding band in platinum & 22k yellow gold, $829. 

But, that doesn't mean that even in contemporary society, that platinum is restricted to just bridal jewelry.  There is an amazing selection out there of platinum fashion jewelry.  And, in keeping with the mixing metals trend, there are some stunning examples which include platinum.  Even Tropila can't deny that the warmer gold colors are hot right now:

"Yellow and rose gold are indeed on trend right now.  But color is a preference.  If you are looking for a white metal, platinum is the best choice. It will never change color and it will hold diamonds and gemstones most securely.  It is a classic and timeless metal, yet it is also fresh and modern.  Because of its unique qualities, platinum is a wonderful metal to create intricate pieces, so the design possibilities are endless.  From vintage to modern, there is a platinum piece to suit every taste.  Platinum also has a rich history.  The original Art Deco pieces, many of which are still around, were created in platinum and current pieces inspired by the period are forever in fashion. In addition to style, platinum remains relevant as the greatest value- a metal that will last forever so your favorite pieces may be passed from generation to generation."

But be aware of the properties of all the metals included in a piece.  "One of the biggest concerns would be the varying levels of wear and tear amongst precious metals," she warns.

Here is a stunning example of a 1920s Art Deco lapis lazuli & opal ring in platinum, 14K yellow gold with rose
cut diamonds from Erie Basin.

My favorite thing about platinum?  The stunning patina that it develops.  Often referred to as a "gunmetal" color, the rich patina that platinum develops over time gives it the piece a feeling that it has seen a lot of history through the ages.  And, jewelry afterall, is often a chronicle of a person's lifetime.  But for those of you who like the durability of platinum but prefer the rich, shiny (i.e. new) color, be sure and have a qualified jeweler polish it for you.  Your platinum pieces will stay looking bright and new longer!

Vintage pear cut aquamarine & diamond pendant necklace from Eragem in platinum, $7,999.

For more information about platinum, visit the Platinum Guild International at www.preciousplatinum.com.


And a special "Thank You" to Amanda Tropila, and the Platinum Guild International, for taking the time to answer our questions and for providing the lion's share of the factoids in this piece. ~ Tiff


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