Rings have been a part of human culture for about as long as human culture has existed. And while rings can be made from a variety of materials — rubber, plastic, wood, or even woven grasses — metal has long been the preferred material for constructing rings. And of course, the more precious the metal, the more valuable the ring.
Engagement rings, in particular, tend to incorporate valuable metals into their designs. Gold is a popular choice in yellow, white, and rose varieties, as are some of the stronger metals such as titanium, zirconium, and tungsten. But for the perfect balance of beauty and durability, many couples are going platinum.
What Is Platinum?
About 30 times more rare than gold, platinum is one of the most valuable metals on earth. Platinum is considered a ‘transition metal,’ which means that it bonds very easily with other metals. Transition metals are also exceptionally high density, with a very high melting point. Despite these characteristics, platinum is also malleable, making it uniquely suited for use in jewelry.
Visually, platinum has a naturally white, reflective appearance. Platinum retains its shine through minimal maintenance and is extremely resistant to tarnishing and corrosion.
History of Platinum Engagement Rings
Platinum has been incorporated into art and design for millennia, with some of the earliest examples dating back approximately 4000 years to ancient Egypt. However, platinum didn’t become widely used until the 1800s. Up until then, platinum was widely believed to be ‘unmeltable,’ making it very difficult to work within most circumstances.
In 1895, Edmond Fouche and Charles Picard created a specialized oxyhydrogen torch capable of heating the metal to 3215° F — platinum’s melting point. Following this advancement, platinum became a popular metal among jewelers. However, two world wars resulted in platinum being identified as a ‘strategic mineral,’ severely limiting its accessibility on the consumer market. It wasn’t until around the 1950s that platinum rings again became popular — particularly in the form of platinum engagement rings.
Gold vs. Platinum Engagement Rings
Different couples have different expectations and wants when it comes to selecting an engagement ring. As such, in comparing gold vs. platinum, it’s difficult to determine which is superior. Visually, platinum is most similar to white gold. But is platinum better than white gold?
From a purely cost perspective, platinum rings are more expensive than white-gold rings of similar quality — sometimes costing as much as 50% more. The interesting part here is that gram for gram, pure platinum, and pure white gold are actually very similar in price.
The differences here are that platinum is usually used in much higher purities than white gold and that platinum’s density demands that more metal be used in constructing a ring. Additionally, the higher melting temperature of platinum vs. gold means that crafting platinum jewelry is a more difficult — and thus more expensive — process. Taken together, these factors contribute to a higher overall cost.
Additionally, white gold has a tendency to yellow over time, losing some of its lustre. This is because white gold isn’t actually white; it has to be mixed with other white metals and is usually plated in rhodium to offset its natural yellow hue. Over time, the rhodium plating will wear off, and the ring will have to be taken to a jeweler to have its rhodium plating restored (although the process is relatively easy and not overly expensive). Platinum is naturally white in color, so it will not fade significantly, though wearers may wish to have their platinum rings polished from time to time.
It’s also worth noting that while both platinum and white gold look spectacular when coupled with diamonds, they don’t necessarily look great with each other. This is because platinum is more gray in color, whereas white gold appears silvery. This color difference may become very noticeable, for example, if you wear a bridal set that includes a platinum diamond ring paired with a white gold wedding band. On the other hand, the ring’s setting, style, and the size/shape of the stone may make those differences less obvious.
Shopping for Platinum Engagement Rings
There are many advantages to choosing a platinum engagement ring: The purity of the metal can represent the purity of your love. Its durability stands as a metaphor for a strong personal commitment. And, platinum is completely hypoallergenic, so it won’t irritate the skin of wearers who may be allergic to those metals that are commonly used in gold alloys.
But not every platinum engagement ring is going to be the right choice for every couple. Here are some of the top things you should consider as you search for the platinum diamond ring of your dreams:
Platinum engagement rings are well suited to essentially any style or arrangement of diamonds, including diamond solitaire, diamond halo, three-stone design, and vintage and classic styles. Just remember that the metal itself is beautiful, and if you overcrowd the ring with large stones or other pieces of jewelry, it may not shine through as easily.
Although the difference is subtle, certain metals take on a slightly different hue when set against different skin tones. If you’re interested in purchasing a platinum engagement ring, it makes sense to first see what the ring will look like on the hand of the wearer.
While diamonds look good with practically every metal, they pair especially well with platinum. Platinum’s natural white shine plays beautifully with the diamond’s sparkle. To get the most out of this unique quality, consider selecting a diamond with maximum fire and brilliance.
Platinum diamond rings are the perfect pairing of precious metal and eye-catching stone. But before you finalize your choice of diamond, consider first where the diamond comes from. Diamonds that are mined from the ground have a significant negative impact on the environment and create many tonnes of mineral waste. Additionally, these diamonds are often illegally traded and used to fund conflict in certain parts of the world.
Alternatively, lab-grown diamonds create no lasting environmental impact, are never used to support violence, and cost less than traditional diamonds. Best of all, these lab-created diamonds are physically and visually identical to mined diamonds. So, when you’re shopping for a diamond for your platinum engagement ring, consider going with the ethical choice.