Answering Platinum Questions

April 1999

For Your Staff:Selling Platinum

Answering Platinum Questions

Explain platinum in easily understandable ways

by Caroline Stanley
Platinum Guild International-USA

Educating customers about platinum gives them the knowledge they need to make the decision to buy. Unfortunately, most consumers don't know as much about platinum as they do about gold or diamonds, for example. Some may have concerns about how difficult their platinum jewelry would be to repair or service. Knowing how bench jewelers work with platinum will help you answer questions at the counter.

Technical Difficulties
Maybe your customers have heard platinum is difficult to work with. Tell them it's not difficult, just different. Perhaps they've heard something vague about contamination. Two types of contamination are usually the most problematic with platinum:

  1. From other metals.
  2. From dirty tools.

Both are simple to avoid. The first type occurs because other metals can melt into platinum at the high temperature required for welding. The second happens when small bits of metals are left in tools, which are then used to work on platinum.

Bench jewelers avoid contamination by using dedicated platinum tools on a clean bench. Platinum tools may be stored away from other tools in zip-lock bags or Tupperware.

So once your bench jeweler is set up for platinum, the answer to your customers should be: "Don't worry. Our bench jeweler is trained to work with platinum and we can service the platinum jewelry we sell."

Finish Line
Asked if platinum is more difficult to finish and polish than gold, there's a simple explanation: "Platinum does require a bit more effort to finish and polish; it takes more steps to achieve the mirror-like finish characteristic of properly finished platinum."

The Dish on Plating
Many customers are more familiar with white gold than platinum. They may ask whether platinum needs to be rhodium-plated like white gold.

Tell them: "Years ago, rhodium was used as a substitute for proper finishing and polishing. Today, however, it's not used on platinum jewelry manufactured in the U.S. However, there are some platinum alloys manufactured in Japan that are rhodium-plated for a more palatable color when they are imported to the U.S."

Alloy Me To Explain
The many platinum alloys can create confusion. If you're asked, reply: "Different metals mixed with platinum create alloys with different characteristics. When a manufacturer is deciding what piece of jewelry to make, the production method usually determines which alloy to use. Some alloys are better for casting; others for fabricating, for example."

It's All Relative
If a customer wonders whether other metals are related to platinum, the answer is simple: "Six metals make up the platinum group metals family: platinum, rhodium, ruthenium, palladium, iridium and osmium. All these metals are used in jewelry in some way.

So you've satisfied your customer's questions. Does someone in your store also have a question about platinum? PGI maintains a 24-hour-a-day hotline, (949) 760-8882, monitored by Jurgen Maerz, PGI's manager of technical education. Or for a list of PGI's technical offerings, fax your request on your company letterhead to (949) 760-8780.

Caroline Stanley is a third-generation jeweler who grew up on the sales floor. She is a past president of the Arkansas Jewelers Association and the Southwest Guild of the American Gem Society. A 1998 winner of a Women's Jewelry Association Award of Excellence, Caroline travels for PGI, training retailers across the U.S.

Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.


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