While gold is often considered the most desirable metal, there are other precious metals out there: most notably, platinum. Traditionally, platinum is of a higher value than gold but, currently, the market value of gold has surpassed that of platinum. In this article, we explore the difference between gold and platinum and ask that all-important question: Is platinum better than gold? Although the value of gold is currently higher than platinum, you will pay more for platinum jewellery than gold jewellery.
Platinum is incredibly rare – it is thirty times rarer than gold and blows the value of silver out the water. In the 18th-century, King Louis XV of France, known as Louis the Beloved, declared platinum the “only metal fit for a king,” and that was just the start of its global prominence. Today, platinum remains in high regard and is widely used for premium jewellery, including wedding bands and engagement rings, and by renowned Swiss watchmakers such as Patek Philippe, Rolex, and Omega.
Unlike many other types of precious metals and gemstones, platinum deposits exist in few locations around the world; most of the world’s platinum deposits are in South Africa, Columbia and South Africa. In comparison to gold, platinum is much more durable and, therefore, doesn’t scratch as easily. The karat value of gold rings compared to platinum also differs; while an 18ct gold ring contains 75% pure gold, a similar platinum ring contains up to 95% pure platinum and weights up to 60% more.
Even though platinum features in both men’s and women’s jewellery, it is particularly attractive in men’s jewellery and watches thanks to its durability and weight. Unlike gold and silver which lend themselves perfectly to traditional jewellery, platinum offers a slightly more contemporary appeal thanks to its lustre and sheen; frequently, platinum watches feature slick, real-leather straps, too.
On writing this article, platinum is valued at $919.40 per ounce while gold is coming in over the odds at a staggering $1,226.58 per ounce – more than 25% higher than platinum. The precious metals market is experiencing a highly unusual surge in the value of gold – whether platinum will take back its reign is anyone’s guess. Despite the rapid rise in gold’s value (in 2005, gold cost just $513 per ounce compared to platinum’s $1,200), typically, you will still pay considerably more for platinum jewellery. For instance, you can get a plain 18ct white gold ring (2mm) for $120 while, for several reasons, the same style of ring in platinum will set you back upwards of $250, if not more than $350. Although, as with all types of jewellery, there are much more expensive options available up into the thousands.
There are several reasons that platinum jewellery will set you back more than gold jewellery; especially if you’re buying an engagement ring or wedding band. Below, explore some of the main reasons for those price discrepancies, including mineral weight, purity and the rising cost of labour.
Platinum is Heavy
When comparing a 14-karat gold ring against a similar platinum ring, the most noticeable difference is the weight. Platinum weights around 60% more than gold; a 14-karat gold ring that weighs around 10g will, approximately, weigh 16g in platinum. It is during the earliest stages of jewellery retail – when most brands purchase jewellery from suppliers – that the difference in cost between the two types of jewellery is mostly set. At wholesale, because of the variance of the weight, brands will pay around 60% more for their platinum jewellery, regardless of the market value of both metals. The weight of the precious metal will always influence its cost and final retail price, as well as its general appeal.
Platinum is Pure
A 14-karat gold ring contains 58.3% pure gold whereas platinum jewellery contains 95% pure platinum which, of course, makes it more expensive and, often, more desirable than gold. Regarding the makeup of both types of jewellery, a 14-karat gold ring contains 14-parts pure gold and ten-parts other metals, such as copper, silver and nickel; while platinum jewellery contains 95-parts pure platinum and five-parts other metals, such as palladium. As a result, platinum is purer than gold which makes it heavier, too; therefore, platinum jewellery is more valuable than gold and, often, seen as “better.”
The final leading reason that platinum jewellery costs more than gold jewellery is that, compared to gold, platinum is much more laborious to make. Platinum is incredibly dense which makes it a lot less manageable than gold, which makes the process a lot more difficult. As working platinum is harder than working gold, it also takes longer which makes the manufacturing process costlier, too. As with every industry, supply and demand dictate the cost of the product; as more people want platinum jewellery, manufacturers must employ more platinum workers who are in short supply which, again, bumps up the price of the final product. Platinum jewellery’s manufacturing process has an air of craftsmanship and speciality, which further makes platinum jewellery an incredibly desirable luxury.
In answer to our earlier question: both gold and platinum are very desirable for use in precious jewellery, and both are beautiful choices; however, undoubtedly, platinum is of better quality than gold. Despite the cost of gold rising, platinum jewellery is still more durable and dense than gold. If you don’t mind the extra weight, the subtle sheen of platinum is understated and very elegant. However, such quality comes with a much heftier price tag, too. When shopping for jewellery, always stay within your budget – there is a choice to suit every budget. But if affordable, choose platinum.
Next time you’re buying a watch or milestone ring, what will it be: gold or platinum?