Saturday, November 23, 2002

Precious platinum

PLATINUMíS rarity, purity and strength makes it the most precious of all jewellery metals. It takes ten tonnes of ore and eight weeks to produce a single ounce of platinum. Only 90 tonnes of platinum is used to create jewellery in the world each year; compared with over 3,000 tonnes of gold. It is also the strongest precious metal used in jewellery, and is almost twice as heavy as 14-karat gold. Platinum is also less likely to cause allergy and resists tarnish, making it easy for sensitive people to wear. Platinum jewellery is exceptionally pure (90-95 per cent pure as compared with 18-carat gold which is only 75 per cent pure).

In recent years platinum has rapidly grown in popularity internationally. It especially sought for diamond engagement rings because its rich lustre brings out the brilliance and fire of diamonds like no other metal can. Platinum is naturally white and maintains its shining luminosity forever, unlike other white metals that, with time, turn yellow or tarnish.


Platinum is not the same as white gold. To create white gold, yellow gold is alloyed with copper and silver along with small amounts of nickel and zinc to achieve a white look. As a result, it doesnít have the same purity, strength, durability, rarity or the natural white luminescence of platinum. So while white gold often has a faint yellow tinge, platinum is only white and its luminescence makes all the difference. And platinum is much heavier too, it weighs 60 per cent more than 14k gold.

Haute pointers

  • Platinum with its rich, white lustre can be worn with anything. It contrasts beautifully with yellow gold and also brings out the colour and brilliance of your gems. In fact, many platinum designers combine it with gold and precious stones to create a sophisticated and fashionable look.

  • If you are buying platinum, make sure that you go only to a Platinum Guild International-authorised retailer. The authorised retailer will issue you a guarantee card, which will specify a unique code for every piece of jewellery you buy.

  • Platinum jewellery should be cleaned in the same way you clean other fine jewellery.

According to Rhea Nasta, Head Designer, Popleys: "Besides diamonds, you can wear aquamarine (sky blue), amethyst (purple) and peridot (olive green) gemstones with platinum." The gold and platinum combination is a favourite among jewellery designers, internationally. "Many platinum designs combine karat gold. The mixing of the two colours looks beautiful and adds variety to your collection," states Nasta.

As for purchasing, Nasta advises: "You do not need definite parameters for purchase of platinum as every piece has an SGS hallmark, so you are assured of 95 per cent platinum purity. Also, it is sold with a certificate assuring you of the same. You must purchase only from a platinum dealer authorised by the Platinum Guild International (PGI)."

Although not too many Indians have taken to buying chunky platinum jewellery pieces yet sleek platinum rings are gaining popularity. "White is really hot and many young people, especially men, prefer the classy look of platinum instead of the glittery gold look," states Nasta, adding that today, the variety in platinum rings is huge. You can opt for a plain platinum band or one with small, large or a cluster of diamonds. Simple platinum bands without stones cost Rs 5,000 upwards, while the range of diamond studded platinum bands starts at Rs.10, 000."

So what does the target consumer, the urban Indian women have to say about this white metal? The perceptions and attitudes vary. "Itís just a marketing gimmick," quips Ritu Singh, a computer professional. "Why would I buy something which is three times more expensive than white gold, yet which looks the same." Some others like designer Meena Iyer love the classy metal: "It brings a fresh appeal. I wouldnít and canít spend on huge platinum pieces, but would love to pick up some dainty neck and ear wear, someday." Adds Nivedita Kumar, a 30-something housewife: "In India, platinum can never displace the culturally strong gold, but thereís no doubt that the metal hits the right chord with the smart, on-the-move Indian women. (INFS)