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|Star Sapphire Platinum Ring|
The most popular precious metal for fine jewelry is 18K gold. Since pure gold (24K) is too soft for most jewelry, 18K gold (75% pure) provides the best combination of gold purity and practicality. 18K gold is manufactured in a range of colors, including yellow, white and rose. White gold is created by combining gold with white metal alloys such as silver and palladium and then plating with rhodium. Rose gold is produced by increasing the ratio of copper alloy.
Some gemstones, such as ruby, are thought to look best when set in yellow gold. Others, such as blue sapphire, are often preferred set in white gold. White diamonds look whitest when set in a white metal. There has been a definite trend towards white metals in recent years for all kinds of gemstones and diamonds.
White gold can easily be confused with another white metal, platinum. Platinum is also popular for fine jewelry and is often regarded as the most luxurious of the precious metals. Unlike gold, platinum is strong and hard enough to be used in its pure form, and platinum jewelry is usually stamped "950 Platinum", indicating that it is 95% pure. Platinum is uusually alloyed with 5% iridium, palladium or ruthenium.
Platinum is a very dense metal, even denser than gold. And since it is used in an almost pure form, platinum jewelry is noticeably heavier than 18K gold. Platinum is also a much rarer metal than gold, and its price has historically been substantially higher. Only recently has the price of platinum fallen below that of gold. Since the weight of platinum in a piece of jewelry is higher than the weight of 18K gold in a similar piece (because of platinum's higher density and the purity of the metal used), platinum jewelry is usually much more expensive than 18K gold.
The color of platinum is whiter than unplated white gold. But much platinum jewelry is also rhodium plated to achieve the super high polish typical of rhodium. Some jewelry designers are now using brushed or matte finishes with unplated platinum in their jewelery.
Platinum is valued for its durability and strength. Though platinum can be scratched, it tends not to wear away, and platinum jewelry will usually outlast gold. Platinum is ideal for the prongs that hold a gemstone in a setting, since platinum is strong and stable when set in position.
See our Gemstone Jewelry Gallery