The Shop at 49 Grove Street

Monday, December 13, 2010


Platinum Crystals

Platinum is a rare element that came to Earth in meteorites and can be found in the Earth's crust and in larger amounts on the moon. It has been on this earth for billions of years, but was mostly likely discovered sometime around the 16th century. 

Antonio de Ulloa

One of the first writings about platinum came from Antonio de Ulloa, a Spanish general and explorer, who in 1748 reported finding a Colombian black sand, platina del Pinto or "little silver of the Pinto river" in his account of his journey on the French Geodesic Mission, an expedition with the goal of measuring the roundness of the Earth. In his account, he described Platinum as neither separable nor calcinable.

Platinum Ore

Unsure of what Platinum might be good for, scientists tried hammering it, heating it, and dissolving it into gold but nothing seemed to benefit them. For some time, it was discarded and banned by the Spanish trade authorities.

It wasn't until Charles III of Spain provided a laboratory to the scientist Pierre-François Chabaneau, that progress was made in realizing Platinum's true value.  The trouble was, Platinum contained six elements that would make the ore react in various ways when heated, hammered, or alloyed.  These six elements are ruthenium, rhodium, palladium, osmium, iridium, and platinum. Once he realized this, Chabaneau was able to produce pure platinum that he could form by heating and hammering. Because platinum was not fusible, but was malleable and strong, it became incredibly valuable. They put it to use creating commercial goods like utensils, which began the Spanish platinum age.

A 1919 Jeweler's Circular 
 reports excitement over platinum ban lift.

Platinum quickly became a precious metal, with a variety of uses. Its compatibility with the human body means it can be used to make pace makers and medicine. Many chemical processes cannot be performed without platinum as a catalyst. It is also used in computers, other electronics, and automobiles. During war time it was even banned from non-military uses.

The images below are just a few of the platinum pieces we carry in the shop: 

Edwardian Platinum, 18K Yellow Gold, and Diamond Ring

Platinum Stackable Bands by Lori McLean

by Max Bartashnik

Because of it's practical uses, platinum wasn't largely used to make jewelry until the late 19th century/early 20th century.  It is now 35 times rarer than gold and mined mostly in South Africa, Russia, and North America. Platinum's strength and weight make it ideal for heirloom jewelry. We encourage you to stop by the shop any time and take a peek!


No comments:

Post a Comment