One of the biggest disappointments for newly married couples is feeling underwhelmed with their now dull plain platinum rings.
All they wanted was a plain and simple wedding band with an expanse of shiny platinum. Yummy. Only it doesn’t stay shiny for long. This is not what they signed up for!
In this blog I’ll be comparing white gold and platinum because I am asked most often to compare these two metals.
Three Reasons Why Platinum Gets Dull
1. Platinum is a malleable metal
2. Platinum is used in a more pure form than white gold
3. Platinum is softer than white gold in jewelry making
Platinum vs. White Gold on the MOHs Hardness Scale
Platinum is not a hard metal. It is 4 – 4.5 on the MOHs scale of hardness. This means it can be scratched by anything harder than it is. Diamond is ten on the MOHs scale and can easily scratch platinum. Your amethyst is a seven on the MOHs scale and can scratch your platinum.
For comparison, pure gold is 2.5, on the MOHs scale. That’s about the same hardness as your fingernail. That will not work for jewelry making. When white gold is prepared for jewelry making, by adding alloy metals, for example at 14kt or 58% pure gold, its hardness gets bumped up to 3.5 – 4. That looks about the same as platinum. Right? But it’s not just the hardness that determines how your metal will wear and look over time. What the MOHs scale doesn’t show you, is the way your chosen metal reacts to harder obstacles when they collide.
How Density Makes Platinum Strong. Why it Wears Differently than White Gold
Platinum is more dense than gold. The same amount of platinum weighs 60% more than gold. This is because on a molecular level there are more and smaller molecules packed into that little bit of space in platinum. Platinum’s density allows it to be used in a purer form than gold. This density translates to strength. But, that does not make it Superman. Or if it does make it Superman, its Kryptonite is the daily-wear bashing about it gets. Platinum is a soft metal. When it gets a scratch or a micro-dent, it is actually moving out of the way of the harder item it is colliding with.
14kt White gold, which has been alloyed with stronger metals to make it into jewelry and make its normally yellow color white, has become a harder metal than platinum. To compare, we’ll take two identical wedding bands. Each band is 6mm wide and 2mm deep and high polished. Then let’s assume I hit each band against the same three harder surfaces. The white gold can leave a tiny bit of itself behind on the harder surface and show a scratch on its surface. The scratch will be very thin as the hard metal resists the harder surface. The platinum band scraping against the same surface moves, and its scratch may look a bit deeper. This is because the metal is softer. Its response to the surface is to yield, to get out of the way. But because of its density, it does not leave a bit of itself behind.
The final effect of this experiment is to show us that white gold, though it may have many fine scratches, is still shiny and can be worn quite a while, being banged about and still shine. Platinum by softly yielding and getting micro-dents gets to a state where no part of the surface hasn’t moved. Platinum becomes dull because of this. This dullness happens more swiftly than people like.
I give more detailed information on the behavior of platinum in my blog: White Gold vs Platinum, What’s the Difference?
Why Polishing Too Much Hurts Your Platinum Ring
One of my new clients had been married for six months and gone back and had her platinum wedding band polished up six times. Her little band was thin to begin with and I explained that if she kept polishing it, it would get too thin after a while.
Unlike the microdents and scratches platinum gets when hit or ground against a harder surface, when your platinum ring is professionally polished, we need to even the surface to hold the high shine. The polishing wheel and technique remove platinum from your ring.
Am I Against Platinum?
I’m not saying don’t buy platinum, I love its malleability. It’s fun to work with for certain designs.
It takes curves in hand engraving like a knife to butter. Beautifully.
In my opinion, if you are planning to choose platinum for your wedding ring choice, you should include details in your design, as opposed to plain, flat and shiny.
Dull Platinum, The Video
This video shows white gold and platinum next to each other as I discuss this issue further.
Don’t Chuck That Platinum Ring, Change it!
If you have a platinum ring that is dull all the time, there are possibilities you can consider to make it look nicer.
You might add hand engraving which adds interest and sparkle if the shape of your ring makes it a candidate. You could also consider adding other details or textures. What makes the dull look bad is if that is all you see. I added a hammered finish to a man’s platinum band. When it got dinged up, for some reason, it looked fine. The hammering changed the visual expectation of the band.
Designing For the Daily Wear Ring With Platinum
If you are going to design for platinum, think about differing heights in the design to add interest, engraved designs, and adding little diamonds on the band. These touches will create sparkle and shiny areas on your ring.
Do you have a platinum ring that’s been looking dull? Something can be done about it.
Your Personal Jeweler,