Platinum is a metal of great purity and beauty. Its strength and durability make it a superior metal for setting fine gemstones, and its whiteness of color enhance the beauty of a fine diamond like no other metal. Platinum is rare; only 120 to 130 tons of platinum are mined each year, 1/20th of the amount of gold mined. To obtain one ounce of platinum, roughly ten tons of ore must be mined, as opposed to three tons of ore for one ounce of gold. Platinum has been used since ancient Egyptian times, yet all the platinum ever mined would fit into a cube not much more than 20' on each side.
Platinum In History
Like gold, platinum dates from the ancients. Its first reported use was by the Egyptians about 3,000 years ago, and it was used throughout Central and South America by the Incas as early as 200 B.C. (the Conquistadors reported deposits of platinum in the New World in the 1500's). Today, South Africa accounts for roughly half of the world's annual platinum production. But deposits are rare, and found in only a few locations around the world.
Higher Purity Alloys
Platinum is one of six metals belonging to a group known as the 'platinum group.' The other metals in this group are iridium, ruthenium, palladium, rhodium, and osmium. Platinum, like gold, is a 'noble' metal, which means that it does not oxidize, or corrode, when it comes into contact with the atmosphere. It is hypoallergenic and resists tarnish. Platinum is very rare, requiring as much as ten tons of ore to produce a single ounce. Gold, by contrast, requires 3 tons of ore to produce a single ounce.
Platinum and White Gold
Contrary to appearances, platinum and white gold are very different metals. Platinum, as explained above, is a separate and distinct metal. White gold is simply yellow gold mixed with an alloy to make it appear white. The alloy usually consists primarily of copper, zinc, and either nickel, platinum, or palladium. White gold alloys, especially 18 karat alloys, usually appear slightly yellowish. Consequently, most white gold jewelry is electroplated with rhodium, a platinum group metal, to make it appear more white.
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