This precious element is known for its gray-white appearance which appears brightly like silver; though, it is far rarer as elements go than silver. As an art medium, platinum was first used by Egyptians and later by Pre-Columbian peoples of the South America who likely obtained the material from the alluvial sands of rivers. It’s somewhat unclear when Europeans knew of platinum’s existence but it was at least documented in writing by the sixteenth century.
Platinum makes an excellent art medium because it is malleable and, of course, its silver-white color is especially revered for creating objects like jewelry and other ornaments. Because it is rare, it is, today, associated with considerable expense. Additionally, platinum is strong and resists wear exceptionally well. Since it doesn’t tarnish, platinum is highly preferred as a jewelry metal. While platinum is still found in regions of South America where it has been mined historically, there are also some deposits in Siberia near the Ural Mountains. Platinum has also been found in Canada, Alaska, India, and South Africa. Even so, it is an extremely rare elemental metal. Interestingly, however, scientists believe that there may be richer abundances of platinum on the moon.
During the late eighteenth century, Spain entered what has been dubbed its ‘Platinum Age.’ Charles III of Spain supported platinum’s research and after much has been accumulated, it was transformed into precious ingots and other objects of value. As an art medium, platinum has been used and still is, of course, to make precious objects such as jewelry and collectible (and investment-worthy) coins. Some of the most illustrious watch makers today like Rolex and Breitling employ platinum for their limited edition offerings. Platinum is typically regarded in terms of value under diamond and it has been used in the creation of royal jewels as well as high-end commercial and artisan-created jewelry.
Some eras of jewelry history are especially associated with platinum. This rare metal was a particular favorite during the Art Deco period. Many designers favored platinum’s luster and strength. It featured popularly as a metal used for engagement rings as well as other luxury jewelry items due to its pure white luster. Even today, designers like Tiffany still favor its use in jewelry design as do other major designers. While its popularity in jewelry may ebb and flow, it is, nevertheless, a staple jewelry metal just like silver and gold; because of its great advantages over other metals, it will likely continue to outlast trends and remain in favor as an exceptional medium for creating precious jewelry in the years to come.