Market Visit: Karat Platinum

 

Karat Platinum, New York; (516) 592-5624; www.karatplatinum.com.

 

Starting retail price point: $499

 

Signature Style: classic bridal jewelry and complimentary fashion pieces made exclusively of a proprietary metal that is 58.5 percent platinum and 41.5 percent non-platinum group metals like copper and cobalt (but no zinc). Karat platinum is the platinum equivalent of 14k gold (which is 58.5 percent pure gold and 41.5 percent non-precious metals), or, 14k platinum. Traditionally, platinum metals are available in 950, which is a 95 percent pure platinum and five percent mix of other platinum metals like iridium, palladium, or ruthenium, and in 900 platinum, which is 90 percent pure platinum and ten percent other platinum metals.

 

Karat Platinum is a newly created metal that offers more choices in platinum group metals. A few years in development, this new metal looks like 950 platinum, supposedly stays ‘white’ like platinum (and unlike white gold which requires rhodium plating after extensive wear), and doesn’t wear away like gold and silver. However, differences do exist between 950 and 900 and 585. The latter weighs less (I held two identically designed bands and could immediately tell which was 950 versus 585), costs less (a Tiffany-style solitaire mounting in 18k gold is $399, in 950 is $1,000, and is $499 in 585 platinum), and is stronger than 950, according to company senior vice president of operations, Howard Slochowsky, because of non-precious metals in the mix, just as 14k gold is stronger than 18k and up. Creative director Michael Ottaway (he worked with Fabrikant—remember their gorgeous Couture collection?) is responsible for designing the jewelry, all of which is being manufactured in India and Thailand.

 

This metal offers the consumer more choices in platinum, which many people want (particularly in bridal) because it’s viewed as “the best” (platinum credit card, anyone?). However, I wonder how this new metal will affect, if at all, the prestige of platinum, which is supposed to be rare and precious—and now more people can have it for less money? No one demands to see the stamp on the back of your platinum jewelry, so you could have the prestige without the price. It’s also easier to brag to your friends about than palladium (I have a gorgeous piece of palladium jewelry but my friends give me blank stares when I tell them what it is—I have to say, “It’s like platinum’s cousin.”) At any rate, all that really matters is if the consumer is pleased and industry’s new products continue to dazzle jewelry lovers. The market will decide for itself how it likes this 14k platinum.