Chemical symbol: Pt
Atomic number: 78
The most common platinum alloy in wedding rings is 950, which means the platinum has a purity of 95%. The composition of the remaining 5% varies depending on which supplier we use, but is usually ruthenium.
Platinum is the strongest precious metal used in jewellery, however can still incur scratches and develop a patina of wear. The patina (a satin sheen that develops on the surface of a ring produced by daily wear and tiny scratches) is considered by many to be a unique and often desirable attribute, however, the shine and reflective lustre can easily be restored by any jeweller at any time.
Take great care with your platinum wedding band and consider removing it when doing chores or when there's risk of it coming into contact with hard substances or harsh chemicals.
Platinum can be cleaned using shop-bought jewellery cleaner or by soaking it in a warm and mild solution of soap and water. Gently rub the ring with a soft cloth to dry.
Platinum is a really useful metal which is widely used in industry - most famously for catalytic converters in cars. This combination of high demand and great rarity means platinum is a relatively expensive metal and is the most expensive metal we sell.
Platinum is a favourite for use in jewellery because it resists wear and corrosion, and because it is hypo-allergenic. When scratched, the metal is displaced rather than lost, so the volume of metal remains the same. Platinum used in jewellery is an alloy and is mixed with other metals to refine its characteristics.
'Platinum' comes from the Spanish word platina, which means "little silver" - the first platinum was discovered in the sixteenth century when panning for gold, and it was thought to be an impure nuisance!
Platinum has been found in artefacts from as far back as 700BC. 18th century scientists identified platinum as potentially useful, but found it difficult to use due to its high melting point and hardness. This changed in the 19th century, when technological advancements meant scientists were able to alloy platinum with other metals to make it malleable. Historically, major global sources of platinum have included Russia and Canada, but today most platinum comes from river beds in South Africa. Demand from Japan in the 1960s brought platinum to the forefront of the jewellery market, and since then it has been cherished for its purity, colour and prestige. Since the 1980s, platinum has also been identified as potentially useful in medicine, specifically in treating cancer and in pacemakers.
Platinum is an extremely rare element - it is said that if all the worlds platinum reserves were poured into an Olympic sized swimming pool, there would only be enough to cover your ankles. For comparison, all the world's gold reserves would fill three pools of equivalent size.