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Does Gold wear away?

I have read many places that platinum is the most precious metal and that gold and silver will wear away to nothing but that platinum will not. Does gold and silver really wear away to nothing? I always thought that platinum just wore away slower and at a similar rate to high karat gold. Is it mostly brittle nickel white gold that wears away and as far as white metal goes platinum wears down slowest? Or does gold really disappear given enough time?

Everything wears away eventually. Even the the wind passing over something will, given enough centuries, reduce it.

Ask anyone who has worn a wedding ring for 40 years and they’ll tell you that (gold, silver or platinum) it’s thinner than it used to be.

Tony Konrath

I can only add that after 40 years or marriage, my mother’s wedding ring had worn to the point of it being like a thin wire at the back. My father bought her a new one for their anniversary. But where the gold went exactly remains a mystery.

My primary business is repairing jewelry for local retailers, so I see examples of how precious metals wear away, every day at the bench.
Both Gold and Platinum wear down, but Platinum at a far, far slower rate.
Wipe a piece of white cloth over the surface of Gold and you will see a black streak left on the cloth. This is a small amount of the precious metal that you have rubbed away.
It is not unusual to see a Platinum ring that has seen several decades of fairly hard wear, and to discover that the ring is still basically sound, and the stones still secure. A Gold ring worn in the same manner can erode away to nothing, and lose exposed prongs (and the gemstones they once held) in just a few years in some cases.
I remember a seminar put on by Johnson Matthew where it was explained that Platinum tends to be pushed aside, rather than scratched away, when it is brushed against a tougher object, while Gold and Silver will be scratched away by that same surface contact.

Everything wears away in time. The air contains billions of tiny abrasive particles which settle on everything. Your hands are covered with them. Each time one of these microscopic particles rubs against something (i.e… your jewellery) it gouges out a microscopic sliver which floats away in the air, never to be seen again.
Platinum, and to a lesser extent, palladium, behave slightly differently to gold or silver - the tiny abrasive particle tends to ‘plough’ a groove in the metal rather than scoop a bit out. Some gets scooped out, but not as much as with gold or silver. Most of the groove just rolls over to one side.
The net result of this ‘ploughing’ is that the surface of the platinum tends to ‘heal’ itself - the surface looses its shine a bit, but doesn’t wear away very much. In practical terms, platinum can last up to about 5 times as long as the same thing made of gold. And gold lasts longer than silver.
Since polishing involves (amongst other things) the abrasive removal of tiny surface irregularities, this would appear to explain why platinum is so difficult to polish.

Thank you all very much for this input. It has been very helpful. :slight_smile:

I recall reading somewhere (perhaps in these forums) years ago that it depends on what karat gold you’re talking about. The gist was that lower karat alloys like 14K and 10K were harder, but they in turn had a tendency to be abraded away whereas 18K and up tended to gall quite a bit more (smearing the metal around rather than being “sanded away”). I don’t know how true that all is, but it does sound like it has a certain amount of validity. . . just not sure exactly how much.

I agree platinum is a P.I.T.A to polish and have dealt with old worn out rings. It does happen

Platinum is a strange metal! That being said here are a few reasons.

You must NOT and again, NEVER cross-contaminate your Polishing buffs with your ‘gold’ equipment.

I once worked with a very good ring-polisher! He told me in no uncertain terms…”don’t bother me while I’m Polishing Platinum” I asked him why? He said, “if I make a poor judgment call on the buffs, I can’t correct it!”

Even the polishing-compounds MUST be kept separate and never mixed with the gold!

The gold buffs will retain minute particles of gold in them.

Now when you mix your gold buffs with the Platinum item you are rubbing gold in and against this delicate metal.

This “school of learning” just never stops!
Isn’t Orchid/Ganoksin just a fantastic learning school?..:wink:

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I’m Gerry, On my iPhone!

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Agreed. I kept seperate wheels for each. Marked in sharpie on side. G s and p