Friday, January 28, 2022

Platinum Plus



Richard Alan

I trust many of you reading this are presently enjoying a day at home recuperating from the results of overindulging on Christmas Day, and then there are many of us that have to face a busy day. That includes yours truly…a goldsmith who happen to run a jewelry store.

I would like to take this moment to extend a sincere thank you and a Happy New Year to our customers and friends for exceeding our expectations and goals this past gift giving shopping season!

At my old Front Street location, I used to close the shop for a couple of days after Christmas to give my staff and myself a well-deserved break in the action, for the official even busier tourist season begins after New Year’s Day.

Close the days after Christmas? That definitely bent some noses out of joint. It certainly kept the returns to a minimum. Don’t take this the wrong way, ladies, but I find it amazing how some women will receive a piece of jewelry on Christmas Day and not be impressed at first. If they can’t exchange it immediately, though, it eventually grows on them, and then decide they can’t live without it. Just saying.

Those early years when I closed, (I don’t do it now) dozens of folks would be huffing and puffing and pulling on locked doors clutching gift watch boxes for wrist adjustments. It’s a necessary service, and every jeweler’s nightmare, like anticipating a root canal kind of thing only now it’s worse than ever, especially with the advent of television home shopping, the internet, Costco, etc. I would honestly shorten 35 or more watches in the first two hours of being open! This watch invasion inundates every salesperson for most of the day and impedes us from giving quality service to our regular customers. So we can’t and won’t do watches Dec. 26 and 27; these days are for our regular clientele so we can assist them with, returns, upgrades, new purchases adjusting rings, chains and such.

If the watch was purchased from our establishment or you are a regular customer (or a V.I.P.). No problem! The service is of course free and immediate. Those unfortunate, impatient souls who received watches as gifts that are ten sizes too large will have to chill for a few days.

Recently, I had a young couple interested in a custom-made bridal rings. I was under the impression they wanted them created in 14-karat white gold, and they later called back insisting on having them done in platinum instead of gold. When I mentioned the cost for making the rings has now more than doubled in price, for a few seconds the silence was deafening on the other end of the line, “What do you mean, why more money?” Platinum is not the same price as gold; it’s always more expensive than gold. They were obviously oblivious to this fact, so why? Is a good question.

Platinum for one is a rare metal and heavier that gold (11% more). A one-foot square block of platinum weighs a little over 1330 lbs. In fact, all the platinum ever mined since man discovered it would fit in an average living room!

Platinum is an amazing metal. It is soft yet hard wearing. Rings with platinum prongs will outlast gold prongs by decades. Unlike white gold, platinum keeps its bright white chrome like color where white gold takes on a yellowish hue in time.

In the making of fine jewelry, working with platinum requires utmost skill and experience. It is a not a forgiving metal. It dents and mars easily and requires extremely high temperatures to melt and actually weld the metal. Finishing and polishing the metal is difficult and requires many time consuming steps to achieve the final glorious effect,

It is also a fact there are very few talented platinum smiths in South Florida. Pure gold melts at 1945 F, while pure platinum requires 3224 F of heat to liquefy. Safety note: Looking at platinum while melting will burn the retinas; proper welding goggles are required.

One of the problems with platinum is some “jewelers” have no clue as to how to work with it and will use gold to size or repair the platinum article. Once gold is added to a platinum ring it is impossible to use platinum on the ring afterward; the gold will actually drip off during the high temperature welding process. The exception to this rule is in re-prong work because the heat required to weld the platinum prong to a platinum ring will burn any diamonds in near proximity.

Many jewelers will use a high-karat white gold solder to attach the platinum prong to prevent damage to the ring. If done correctly the repair blends in perfectly and is next to impossible to detect.

Cost is high for platinum jewelry. For example, on average, a gent’s heavy 20-inch, solid 14kt. white gold chain that retails for $3,500. The identical in platinum will run you close to $9,000. Big difference!

I have several customers who buy nothing but platinum; it is a small percentage indeed.


Richard Alan is a designer /goldsmith and owner of the Harbor Goldsmith located at the Island Plaza and welcomes your questions about all that glitters. 239-394-9275 or

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