Platinum marks are a little more complex than those stamped onto gold jewelry. In the U.S., the manufacture and marketing of platinum jewelry is subject to the oversight of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). According to current FTC guidelines, to be called “platinum,” jewelry must contain at least 500 parts per thousand of pure platinum, although most platinum jewelry sold in the U.S. contains at least 90 percent pure platinum.
If a jewelry item consists of 950 parts per thousand or more of pure platinum, it can be marked platinum, plat., Pt., or pt. without any qualifying statements. Jewelry with a composition falling between 500 and 950 parts per thousand of platinum must be marked with the amount of pure platinum as well as the amount of the PGM used to alloy it (e.g., 600 Plat.400Irid. or 600Pt.350Ir.).
For some time now, the FTC has been considering whether or not to revise current platinum guidelines. This is due to the fact that new platinum alloys are now being used for jewelry. These new alloys are not made with PGMs but with copper and cobalt. In addition, these alloys usually contain only 585 parts per thousand of platinum, which is well below the purity level expected in the marketplace. There are several pros and cons to accepting jewelry made of alloys with lower quantities of platinum.
The new alloys lower the cost for both manufacturers and consumers, but there is some concern about the durability of the new products. Since consumers have traditionally equated platinum with quality and luxury, it is not yet known if they will accept platinum jewelry that contains significant levels of base metals .
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