Platinum has become one of the most-coveted metal ingredient for jewelry-making. Jewelry aficionados and fashion experts understand the value of platinum and regard platinum jewelry as a classic must-have. Some people may not know this, but the recognition and affection that platinum enjoys today is far from the reception it received many years ago when its role as a jewelry component -- a main one at that -- was unthinkable and just absurd. Indeed, it took decades -- nay, centuries -- before platinum jewelry became the success it is now.
Where the Name Platinum Comes From
Platinum got its name from the Spaniards, who called it "platina" or little silver - a derogatory reference to its resemblance to the shiny metal. What the Spaniards didn't know then is that platinum has a number of exceptional properties that qualifies it as the perfect material for making jewelry. These properties include incomparable hardness, high melting point, heavy weight, and notable ductility - the very traits responsible for platinum's long absence in the jewelry-making industry.
When Did Platinum Start Getting Used?
Early use of platinum dates back to the existence of the ancient Egyptian civilization. An archaeological dig in Egypt found a casket made of platinum, apart from other metals; this appearance was ignored and considered only accidental, however, due to the fact that small amounts of platinum were also noted to be present in things that contained native gold. In Ecuador, platinum was also reported to have been used by the pre-Colombian Incas; probe into the metal's qualifications for making jewelry and other artistic purposes was never realized due to the mysterious disappearance of the Incas. purportedly highly advanced fabricating techniques at the time the Spanish Conquistadores reached their shores.
Because the Spaniards didn't think much of platinum, thanks primarily to its resistance to melting and forging, the Spanish government ordered its banishment from import activities. One way or another, however, platinum made its way to other parts of Europe, albeit as contraband. It was clear platinum was not going to become obsolete, making its way all around the globe. In the 18th century, the metal caught the attention and interest of scientists, who decided that platinum was not an alloy of iron and gold, as earlier thought. Finally, research showed how platinum was in fact malleable, extremely ductile, resistant to acidic contact and heat could be melted through the adding of tiny amounts of arsenic, and could be made into very fine sheets or wire. Soon enough, platinum was used to make sugar bowls and coffeepots - and the early 19th century saw the birth of platinum jewelry in the form of decorative chains, shirt studs, and cuff links.
Jewelry For Generations
Platinum jewelry has been considered to be lifetime pieces - items that will not wear down with the passage of time. There are so many things that platinum has use for in terms of jewelry design, including being a better alternative for silver in settings for pearls, diamonds, and other precious metals, and pure platinum settings continue to dominate elite jewelry collections. Demand for platinum jewerly - especially for pieces that contain 950 parts per thousand of pure platinum - has not slowed down and is in fact rising every year, so you can count on platinum to stay for many more years to come.