Thursday, January 24, 2013

Platinum principles

To me, platinum is the gold standard of precious metals. As the price of metals surges and dips on the market, I remain immune to the trends in my old-school preference.

Antonio de Ulloa, platinum pioneer

To be clear, I adore all the metals. Gold and silver are both unique in their properties and appearance. Even the flash of rose gold currently all the rage...including Tiffany's new rubedo...has its appeal.

                                                         The "new metal" rubedo from Tiffany & Co.

But platinum--especially when we're talking about engagement and wedding rings--has a certain eclat and age-old appeal that resonates for all time.

I also am convinced that certain stones look better in a platinum setting. Diamonds and sapphires being "cool" stones, seem to be more at home surrounded by icy tones. Diamonds in particular sit better without the residual shadow effects and reflective yellowing that a gold setting sometimes achieves.

(This is of course, my opinion. I have many friends with gorgeous rings set in gold.)

Platinum's origins intrigue me. Its name is derived from the Spanish term platina, or "little silver." It is a densemalleableductileprecious, gray-white transition metal and is one of the rarest elements in the Earth's crust. Known as a "noble metal," it was used by pre-Columbian Americans near modern-day Esmeraldas, Ecuador to produce artifacts of a white gold-platinum alloy. The first European reference to platinum appears in 1557 in the writings of the Italian humanist Julius Caesar Scaliger as a description of an unknown noble metal found between DariĆ©n and Mexico, "which no fire nor any Spanish artifice has yet been able to liquefy." In 1741, Charles Wood and Antonio de Ulloa were both credited with the discovery of platinum.

I was raised with the concept that platinum was the only proper metal for engagement and wedding rings. This was clearly a prejudice. I grew up looking at my grandmother's rings from 1920 and beyond, and my mother's and aunt's 1950's ones. All were that somewhat dull, dense silvery color. My mother went so far as to compare its neutral shade to that of the proper blonde color for hair. A pale, silvery blonde was preferable to a brassy, yellow blonde. Again, out of my mother's mouth.

                                                              Clearly partial to platinum

In addition, my intrepid mum shared distinct instructions that I would likely have to "bring along" any prospective suitor on the preferred setting for any diamond in my future.

Ironically, the world seemed to catch on a but in the last few years. Platinum has begun to be recognized...imbued with a special allure of exclusivity and timelessness.

Today I chuckle a bit about the "platinum or bust" principle. It seems antediluvian, tied to such cliches as the lockjaw and the hope chest. But it was a charming conviction that was reflective of its time and place in my family.

Platinum forever,


MaryBeth said...

You might be partial to platinum but looking at that pile of rings I would say you are partial to stunning jewelry.
Like you, I believe wedding jewelry should be platinum which I have along with my diamond studs but I do love my gold watches.

Kathie Truitt said...

You're writing again!! YEA!!

Kathie Truitt said...

Oh, I was so excited to see something new here that I forgot to leave a 'real' comment. I too, am partial to platinum, but gold is a close second.

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Living well is the best revenge...and a choice we make every day. Join me as I celebrate the bounty of beauty in all its forms: fashion, homestyle, accessories and everyday I juggle the roles of Mommy, wife, daughter, dog mommy, creative director, Zumba instructor, volunteer...all with more than a passing glance backward to an old-school, classic time when style was a way of life