All that glitters is not gold. Archana Achal takes a look at platinum, which is making a big comeback thanks to some macroeconomics play.
During any festive season, one looks forward to adding some bling to their outfit and the favourite part of festive shopping is the trip to the jewellery store to pick out some shiny new trinket. When at one time platinum used to trade at almost double the price of gold, the recent months have seen that difference in price narrow considerably, due to over speculation in gold prices.
With just a few hundred rupees separating the price per gram of the two metals, why not choose the one which has always held the fascination of the people as being the more precious of the two? According to Platinum Guild International, sales of platinum have increased at the retail level and even remotely-located jewellers have shown interest in getting into the world of platinum. While earlier most of us admired the beautiful metal from afar, now we can catch the trend early and own a sensational piece of silvery-white jewellery for the years to come.
The real deal
Platinum has been used to make rings and other pieces of jewellery for thousands of years but the precious nature of platinum and its true value was unknown until the recent past when scientists studied the metal for its heat-resistant and non-corrosive properties. In fact, when the conquistadors of Spain were searching for gold in Colombia in the 17th century, they considered the tiny nuggets of platinum they found in their pans to be a nuisance, used later only to produce counterfeit coins. Centuries had to pass before jewellers discovered the malleable nature of the metal and used it to create pieces of aesthetic value.
Still, a problem that plagued all was the limited nature of platinum sources, even now concentrated in only two regions in the world, the Bushveld complex of South Africa and near the Ural Mountains in Russia. This lustrous, ductile metal is usually found in its pure state, though also sometimes found in combination with other metals of the same group. It is the rarity of occurrence and its pure nature that places platinum at a value position higher than that of gold.
Platinum is naturally white, does not tarnish over time and can withstand high pressure and temperature. As a result, it requires a skilled hand to craft a piece of platinum jewellery. Even though platinum is denser than other metals, it can be drawn into fine threads and can withstand high levels of tension, thereby giving the jeweller greater freedom in terms of design possibilities.
Platinum has always been the luxury metal of choice for wedding bands and trousseau gifts, and according to Orra and the Platinum Guild International, the demand only seems to be on the rise. There is nothing like sealing your relationship with that special someone with rings that would never tarnish. But now, even men's jewellery is being made in platinum as compared to traditional gold for rings and necklaces.
Platinum, being a metal that constantly excites and inspires the designer according to Gili India Ltd, can open up the jewellery design field to modern, innovative pieces. Given its malleability, the latest trend is to draw it into thin threads in which precious stones and gems can be suspended. Hollow or tubular designs, which give the impression of filigree work are also in vogue, as they can be both vintage and modern in appearance.
For those who prefer simple yet tasteful jewellery, floral designs are all the rage in platinum pieces. Diamond-studded flower earrings or necklaces adorned with thread-work leaves and vines can be worn both during the day and on a dressy evening out.
If modern innovation is your style of choice, why not try a twist on platinum by the late designer Steven Kretchmer? Kretchmer produced magnetised platinum which he called Polarium and used it to create visually dynamic jewellery. Polarium is a 77.7 per cent platinum alloy which is permanently magnetic, extremely hard and quite scratch-resistant. Multiple, thin, detachable rings of Polarium can be banded together through magnetic attraction to form unique wedding rings. The inside of each band can carry a personal declaration of love. This would be a unique way to mark a celebration. Kretchmer's Tension-Set rings are also innovative as the gemstones are held in place solely by a compression force of 12,000 pounds per square inch, eliminating the need for prongs to secure the stones. This setting exposes the precious stone to more light, thereby enhancing the beauty of its facets and colour.
Platinum draws its value from its eternal shine and quality, which is reason enough to pick up a beautiful piece for yourself or your loved one. It is the ultimate statement in luxury jewellery today.