Platinum has been known for centuries, but until recently, it was a mysterious novelty that frustrated the Spanish conquistadors who found it when panning for gold. They were baffled by the white metal bits mixed with gold nuggets that were difficult to separate and could not be melted.
When Greg Merrall’s students called him over to look at what they’d found, he knew right away it certainly wasn’t silver. Although the coins they had purchased from a Toronto supplier carried the appropriate stamp, once melted, the metal neither looked like 999 silver nor acted like it.
Nine-karat, 14-karat, or 18-karat? If you carried only one in your store, which would it be? This may seem like a no-brainer. You may opt for the higher karat for obvious reasons, such as more gold content. Or maybe your customers find the shine of gold in higher karats more brilliant and eye-catching. It could be also that they just like the cachet and luxury factor these metals possess.
The price of platinum compared to gold has helped turn more consumers on to taking their jewellery up a notch, particularly in the bridal category. And while many might still prefer gold over the naturally white precious metal, the category as a whole is growing, especially in markets like China. Canadians, however, have traditionally embraced it and continue to do so.
Platinum is a chemical element with the symbol Pt and an atomic number of ’78.’ Its name is derived from the Spanish platina, meaning ‘little silver.’ It is a dense, malleable, durable, and white metal with a very high melting point.