In a Class by Itself? Platinum

For centuries, platinum has been equated with the best of the best. In the world’s finest jewelry, from the court of Louis XVI (where it was declared the only metal fit for kings) through the Art Deco of the Jazz Age until today, platinum’s beauty, strength and durability have kept it firmly at the top of the most-precious list.

Did you know, for example, that 10 tons of ore need to be crushed in order to yield just a single ounce of the metal? That a one-gram nugget of platinum can be stretched into a wire that extends a mile and a quarter in length? That, today, one out of every four brides chooses platinum for her wedding set.

Most important for jewelry-buyers is that platinum’s superior strength and durability make it the ideal setting for any gemstone, particularly a diamond. And its lustrous, pure-white color makes the diamond sparkle like nothing else. Look for jewelry that highlights the metal’s beauty, with intricate basketweave, filigree, engraving and millegrain details, as well as lacy, openwork designs. Or choose a ring with the fascinating tension setting, where the diamond appears to float unsupported between two pieces of platinum, held in place by the metal’s sheer strength.

When buying platinum jewelry, be sure to look for the hallmarks that tell you the metal’s purity. Most platinum jewelry sold in the U.S. is 85% to 95% pure and will be marked 850Pt, Pt850 or 850Plat; or 950Pt, Pt950 or 950Plat. If a piece is 95% pure, it may be simply labeled ?platinum.?