Popularity of platinum rings on the rise

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    Karen Lee

    Wedding ring advertisements can be found just about anywhere from billboards to bus benches, but in recent months, ring ads have undergone some colorful changes.

    The metamorphosis has occurred in the color of the rings displayed from gold to silver colors. New ads are not for silver rings, but platinum rings that appear silver in color.

    Terry Smith, manager of Schubach Jewelry in Orem, said that when jewelers advertise they want to show their best and finest jewelry and for the most part, platinum is the best metal a jeweler has.

    Not only is the shift occurring in advertisements, but in sales as well.

    Mark Morlock, staff gemologist of Losee Jewelers, said that three years ago there were only three platinum rings in the display cases at his store, but that currently there are over a thousand platinum rings on display daily.

    Amanda Chase, assistant manager of JC Keepsake Diamonds, said the increase in platinum sales could be attributed not only to outdoor advertisements but also to advertisements in many of the popular bridal magazines.

    Chase said other factors why people are choosing platinum over gold are the facts that platinum is three times stronger than gold and that platinum is much more rare.

    According to the Platinum Guild International, a major force behind the push for platinum, is that only 133 tons of platinum is mined annually, compared to 1,782 tons of gold.

    Smith said that with this rarity comes a higher price, even three to four times higher prices than gold.

    Kamie Millward, assistant manager at Morgan Jewelers in University Mall, said the sales increase may also be explained by the women who are now getting engaged. Millward said that many of these women grew up wearing only silver jewelry because that is all they could afford and that is what they are used to wearing.

    “Therefore, when it comes time to get engaged, many women don’t want to have to get all new jewelry when they can get an engagement ring to match what they already have,” Millward said.

    As far as the growing trend of platinum sales is concerned, Craig Evans, manager of Zale’s Jewelers in Orem, said couples from Generation X want to be different than their parents and platinum rings are another way to create that separation between the generations.

    While Generation Xer’s platinum ring purchases may differ from the types of rings their parents had, platinum rings are not that different from what their grandparents may have had.

    Platinum was popular just before World War II, but popularity faded after the U.S. government banned its use for non-military purposes during the war, Smith said.

    James Huckle of England’s Johnson Matthey, the world’s largest dealer of platinum, said in a Fortune magazine article that because of the ban, a substitute known as white gold was created.

    Until about the last decade, platinum has been used mostly in industrial processes, including chemical and petroleum refining and most significantly as the essential element in catalytic converters, according to the article.

    The same article mentioned that in more recent years the number of retail stores providing platinum rose from about 100 elite jewelers, like Tiffany and Cartier, to more than 7,000 jewelry stores across the country, thus making the precious metal more available to consumers.

    Because the colors of white gold and silver are similar to platinum, consumers may worry if they are buying a real platinum ring or not. To ease consumer’s minds, Morlock said that all platinum rings in the United States are engraved with one of three symbols.

    One symbol is the four letters “plat.” and the other symbols to look for are the numbers 900 or 950. If the number on the inside of the ring is 925 then the ring is not platinum but sterling silver.

    Morlock said another way to tell if a ring is platinum is to hold a gold ring in one hand and a platinum ring in the other. He said that the gold ring would feel as light as cotton candy when compared to the platinum ring that would feel like lead. This is because platinum has a higher density than gold, Morlock said.

    Because of this higher density, an 18-carat platinum ring weighs 30 percent more than an 18-carat white (or yellow) gold ring, Smith said.

    Morlock also said that platinum is naturally white, whereas gold’s natural color is yellow. The white color in white gold is artificially created by adding other metals. Even then the color is not always pure white and white gold often has to be rhodium plated to achieve a “platinum look”.

    Platinum’s newfound popularity among jewelers and consumers makes relevancy to the phrase “all that glitters is not gold.”

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