Also known as the noble metal, platinum is among the favorite metals when it comes to making high-end jewelry. Jewelers love platinum for its many great qualities, including the fact that it is malleable and easy to shape.
While platinum is a beautiful and lustrous silvery-white metal, one can’t help but wonder whether or not it is safe for individuals with mental or skin sensitivity. In this post, we will discuss whether or not platinum is hypoallergenic and why. We will also compare it to platinum-plated jewelry and look at each of its pros and cons.
What Is Platinum?
Platinum is counted among the precious metals, and especially popular among jewelers when it comes to high-end jewelry. This precious metal is considered to be 30 times rarer than gold making it the least common of the precious metals and the most valuable.
Platinum is a naturally occurring metal and dates as far back as Ancient Egypt. It was however first referenced in 1557 as Platina meaning little silver. This is because the Spaniards who discovered it while mining silver thought it was an impure sample of it. Later in the 18th century, Platinum was among the 8 known metals and was referred to as White gold. This confusion was due to its silvery-white appearance that closely resembled that of white gold. The difference however is that white gold develops a yellowish tint over time once the rhodium used to plate it begins to fade. Platinum on the other hand retains its natural white color.
In terms of properties, platinum is among the transitional metals meaning it can easily bond with other elements. The metal is also highly malleable and easy to shape but also highly durable. Platinum is also said to be among the densest elements, being almost 21 times denser than water and 6 times denser than diamond. Aside from being called a noble metal, another name used to refer to it is the unmeltable metal. That’s because platinum has a high melting point of 3,215.1F.
This rare metal is formed naturally when minerals are eroded and carried away by water. Platinum can also be mined as ore from underground. Alternatively, you could derive it from cooperite, scientifically known as a platinum sulfide. Some reports suggest that platinum can also be found in meteorites in outer space. The main country known to produce platinum is South Africa, although some of it can also be found in Zimbabwe and Russia.
Is Platinum Hypoallergenic? And Why?
When it comes to metal jewelry, the biggest concern is whether or not the metal is hypoallergenic. The reason is that about 15% of people wearing metal jewelry are prone to metals allergies. This could be a result of having sensitive skin or having metal sensitivity. Hypoallergenic metal, therefore, means that the metal is least like to cause an allergic reaction to the skin.
While several metals are said to be hypoallergenic, Platinum is considered to be the only true hypoallergenic metal. Jewelers recommend it as the safest metal to wear on the skin, especially for those who are highly sensitive.
The reason is, unlike gold or sterling silver, which are mixed with significant percentages of other metal alloys, Platinum is 95% pure. It is also extremely resistant to corrosion and tarnishing. It is also highly unreactive meaning it doesn’t oxidize nor is it affected by common acids. When conducting patch tests of Platinum on the skin, it is extremely rare to find a positive result.
Does Platinum Jewelry Have Nickel In It?
Nickel is considered to be a highly reactive metal. It is easily oxidized and reacts with other elements when exposed. Metal or jewelry containing nickel, almost always results in an allergic reaction, especially for those with sensitivity. This is because nickel will easily react with sweat, body oil, or other cosmetics on the skin and form salts that tend to be irritating on the skin. For this reason, people avoid jewelry containing nickel.
As for whether or not solid Platinum jewelry contains nickel, the answer is no. As mentioned, early platinum is the purest of precious metals. It is made up of 95% platinum and 5% iridium. Like platinum, iridium is also considered safe for the skin. The chances of Platinum containing nickel are close to zero unless the platinum in question is impure.
Detailed Pros And Cons Of Platinum Jewelry
Platinum may have many great qualities, but it also has its downsides. The following are the main advantages and disadvantages of Platinum Jewelry:
It is highly durable. Compared to other precious metals, platinum is very strong and doesn’t break easily. It also does not tarnish or corrode. Even with daily use, you can be sure that Platinum will not wear out easily over time.
It enhances diamonds. Jewelers consider platinum to be the best setting for diamonds. Its silvery-white appearance best accentuates the diamond’s sparkle without reflecting any color off of it. This is opposed to white gold, which over time develops a yellowish tint that reflects on the diamond and affects its appeal.
It is hypoallergenic. We’ve already mentioned that platinum is the safest metal especially for people prone to allergic reactions. It is the purest of the precious metals, with the least chance of containing traces of nickel and extremely it’s also unreactive. It is therefore unlikely that you would develop an allergic reaction by putting on platinum jewelry.
It looks better with time and requires minimal maintenance. Given its durability and the fact that it doesn’t tarnish or corrode, there is little maintenance required to keep platinum jewelry lustrous over time. It may develop a patina over time from surface scratches, which most people desire. You can, however, easily return it to its original state by having it polished.
It is a rare metal. Platinum is considered to be even more rare than gold. It can only be found in three countries in the entire world. As a result, platinum jewelry pieces are rare to come by compared to gold and silver jewelry.
It is expensive. Given how rare the metal is, it comes as no surprise that platinum is highly valued and priced. The cost of acquiring the metal is high meaning that platinum pieces will also be costly to buy.
It is heavy. Platinum is among the densest element. The weight of platinum jewelry can be a lot to carry around especially if you’re an active person.
Is Platinum Plated Jewelry Hypoallergenic? Why?
As you may know, plating jewelry involves using one metal to cover up another metal. In this case, it would be using platinum to cover up a base metal that’s usually significantly cheaper. Therefore, platinum-plated jewelry isn’t really solid platinum jewelry.
With that said, while platinum is the safest hypoallergenic metal there is, platinum-plated jewelry is not necessarily hypoallergenic. It’s because the platinum used in plating is usually a thin layer that fades over time exposing the base metal. The common types of base metals used are iron, copper, and brass.
Iron is easily corroded when exposed to air and while copper and brass can be hypoallergenic, they may contain traces of nickel which may be harmful to the skin. As such, individuals with sensitive skin or metal sensitivity might want to avoid platinum plated jewelry as it’s likely to cause an allergic reaction.
Detailed Pros And Cons Of Platinum Plated Jewelry
The following are some of the upsides and downsides of using platinum plated jewelry:
It is easier to find. Platinum is a rare metal, therefore there may not be enough to mass-produce solid platinum pieces. It is however easier to find many platinum-plated pieces given that the platinum used is very little.
It is cheaper. Unlike solid platinum jewelry, the cost of making platinum plated jewelry is significantly cheaper. That’s because a little bit of platinum is used to make the pieces. It’s, therefore, a cheaper alternative for diamond settings when you can’t afford solid platinum or white gold.
It is lighter. Again, because the amount of platinum used in plated jewelry is little, the piece isn’t as heavy as the solid pieces. What’s more, the base metals used underneath the plating are also light.
It is not hypoallergenic. As we have already discussed, the platinum plating is very thin and likely to fade over a short period. The base metals underneath, can either be highly reactive or contain traces of nickel.
It is not durable. The luster of plated platinum pieces doesn’t last for a long time. That’s because the layer used is thin and fades easily over time especially with frequent use of the jewelry. It, therefore, requires high maintenance since you need to frequently keep replating it.
Should You Buy Platinum Jewelry Or Platinum Plated Jewelry?
Both solid and plated platinum pieces have their advantages and disadvantages, it’s all a matter of preference.
If you’re on a limited budget but still want a platinum piece, the platinum-plated pieces are a better alternative. They are also lighter and readily available.
If you have sensitive skin, on the other hand, or prefer quality over a price, then solid platinum pieces are the best option. You can be guaranteed that they are hypoallergenic and durable.
Platinum is one of the most valuable metals in the world and with good reason. Aside from being rare, it’s also high quality considering its durability and the fact that’s pure and hypoallergenic. Considering the price, however, there is nothing wrong with picking platinum-plated pieces as an alternative, as long as it’s not for daily use.
Tiger is a fashion&jewelry lover. He is also a fashion jewelry manufacturer that help thousands of small business to grow and also do business with some big fashion jewelry brands. He is a truly metal expert and he will share some information you are looking for.