When it comes to creating exquisite jewelry, understanding the unique properties of metals is paramount. At Panama Bay Jewelers, we pride ourselves on our mastery of platinum smithing, a specialized skill that sets us apart. Let's delve into the distinctions between platinum, gold, and silver, and why consulting a trained platinum smith is crucial for your precious pieces.
Platinum, Gold and Silver: a precise alchemy
In jewelry making, understanding the melting points of different metals is crucial as it directly affects the methods and techniques used in making pieces. Gold, silver and platinum are three of the most widely used metals, each with different properties, including their melting points.
Gold: Gold is a popular choice for jewelry due to its shiny appearance and malleability. The melting point of pure gold is relatively low compared to other metals, at about 1,064 °C (1,947 °F). This lower melting point makes gold easier to work with, but it also means that gold jewelry may be more prone to damage under high temperatures. In practice, gold is often alloyed with other metals such as copper or silver to increase its strength and alter its color, which can also affect the melting point.
Silver : Silver has a melting point of approximately 961°C (1,762°F), which is slightly lower than that of gold. This property makes silver relatively easy to mold and shape, making it a favorite material for intricate jewelry designs. However, silver can tarnish over time when exposed to air and moisture, which is a challenge for jewelry makers and owners alike. Tarnish can affect the appearance of silver, requiring regular maintenance.
Platinum : Platinum is a more robust and durable metal, with a much higher melting point of around 1,768 °C (3,214 °F). This high melting point presents a significant challenge in jewelry manufacturing as it requires specialized equipment and techniques. The strength and durability of platinum make it an excellent choice for setting gemstones, as it holds them securely. However, the metal's high melting point and hardness mean that working with platinum requires more effort and experience.
Density and durability
The density and durability of precious metals are key factors that influence not only the design and manufacturing process, but also the long-term maintenance and care of the jewelry. Gold, silver and platinum have different properties in terms of density and durability, which affect their use in jewelry and the frequency of maintenance required.
Gold : Pure gold (24 karat) is a dense metal, but it is also quite soft and malleable. Its density is approximately 19.32 grams per cubic centimeter. Due to its softness, pure gold is prone to scratches and deformation. To improve its durability, gold is often alloyed with metals such as copper, silver or zinc, which also affects its color and hardness.
Gold jewelry requires regular cleaning to maintain its shine. However, due to its softness, especially at higher carats, gold jewelry can be prone to scratches and dents. Prongs made of gold, particularly in high-karat jewelry, can wear out faster than those made of more durable metals, requiring more frequent inspections and possible prong replacements.
Silver : Silver is less dense than gold, with a density of approximately 10.49 grams per cubic centimeter. It is harder than pure gold, but is still relatively soft compared to other metals. Silver is also prone to tarnishing, which can affect its appearance over time.
Silver jewelry requires frequent cleaning to prevent tarnish and maintain its shine. The softness of silver means that it can be scratched and warped more easily than harder metals. Silver prongs in jewelry settings may also need more frequent inspection and possible replacement, as they can bend or wear over time.
Platinum : Platinum is the densest and most durable of the three metals, with a density of about 21.45 grams per cubic centimeter. It is significantly more durable and harder than gold and silver. Platinum is highly resistant to tarnish and tarnish, making it an ideal choice for jewelry that stands up to daily wear.
Platinum jewelry is less prone to scratches and warping, and maintains its appearance with minimal care. Due to their durability, platinum prongs in jewelry settings are less likely to require replacement or repair, making them a long-term, low-maintenance option. However, platinum can develop a patina over time, which some people find desirable, while others may prefer to polish it.
Why should you choose a trained platinum smith?
Consulting a skilled platinum smith for platinum jewelry repair, modification, or custom design is crucial for several reasons:
Experience in handling platinum :
Platinum requires a higher level of skill to work with due to its unique properties. It has a higher melting point than gold and silver, and is much harder, making it difficult to shape and mold. A trained platinum smith has the experience necessary to handle these challenges effectively, ensuring that the integrity and appearance of platinum jewelry is maintained or improved.
Specialized equipment and techniques :
Working with platinum often requires specialized tools and equipment that are different from those used for other metals. Platinum smiths have access to and are trained in the use of this equipment, such as high-temperature torches and specific types of soldering. They are also experts in techniques that are unique to platinum, such as welding and forging, which are critical for both repairs and custom designs.
Quality and durability of work:
Due to its durability, repairs and modifications to platinum jewelry, if done incorrectly, can result in damage or a decrease in the life of the piece. A trained platinum ensures that the work performed on the piece maintains or improves its quality, ensuring longevity and preserving its value.
Understanding the aesthetic qualities of platinum:
Platinum has a distinct appearance, characterized by its bright white finish and a unique patina that develops over time. A platinum expert understands these aesthetic qualities and knows how to work with them, whether preserving the patina on a vintage piece or achieving a high polish on a new design.
Ensure the value and integrity of jewelry:
Platinum jewelry often represents a significant investment and sentimental value. A trained platinum smith ensures that any repair work, modifications or custom designs do not decrease the value of the piece. They also understand the importance of maintaining the structural integrity of platinum jewelry, which is especially important in pieces containing gemstones.
Panama Bay Jewelers is the only business in Panama with a platinum smith, trained by the Gemologic Institute of America. If you need repairs or maintenance for your platinum pieces or want a custom platinum design, you can trust Panama Bay Jewelers to provide you with quality craftsmanship.