Choosing a Setting
Platinum is a silvery-white, lustrous metal that does not oxidize or tarnish. Acclaimed for its purity, platinum used for jewelry applications is a minimum 90% pure, as compared to 18 karat White Gold- which is only 75% pure. Platinum's purity makes it naturally hypoallergenic and ideal for those with sensitive skin. Platinum is very dense, which contributes to its durability. Platinum may feel more substantial due to its density, if two identical rings were made in platinum and 14kt gold, the platinum ring would be 60% heavier. Platinum is found in very few places around the world and is 30 times more rare than gold. Platinum also has a very high melting temperature that makes it more difficult and dangerous for jewelers to work on, which causes the price of repairs to be significantly higher. All precious metals scratch, and platinum is no exception, but due to its unique properties the metal is only displaced, not lost. To maintain a high shine, platinum will occasionally need to be polished.
Pure Gold (24kt) is naturally yellow, but jewelry is rarely made from pure gold because it is too soft to be practical. Fine gold jewelry is typically 14 or 18 karat. A ring stamped 14kt indicates that the piece is 14 parts pure gold and 10 parts alloy. The alloy used determines the color of the gold. The alloys used in rose gold, for example, would be mostly copper to give it a rich pink color. White gold's alloys include silver, zinc, nickel and/or palladium. White gold can have a faint yellow tinge - it is common practice to electro-plate white gold jewelry with rhodium to give it a bright white appearance similar to platinum. Rhodium is a member of the platinum family of metals and is ten times as costly as gold; however, it is not a feasible material to make solid jewelry from because it is too stressed and brittle. A bright white, high-polish finish can make diamonds look bigger and better because it's difficult to see where the stones end and the metal begins; however, it is only a plating and will wear off over time and require replating.
Palladium is a rare and lustrous silvery-white metal that was discovered in 1803. It has been used for jewelry since the 1930s, but mostly as an alloy for White Gold. Part of the platinum family of metals, palladium is less rare and therefore less costly than platinum. It is less dense and has a lower melting temperature than platinum; however, it is whiter, lighter, and 12% harder than platinum. Today it is quickly rising in popularity as an alternative to White Gold and Platinum.