Two of the world’s most famous precious metals – platinum and silver – can appear identical to the untrained eye. They’re both shiny, metallic, and gray in nature, and at first glance, they don’t appear to have any intrinsic differences. But the commonalities between platinum and silver end there, as the experienced eye will be able to differentiate quite easily.

Why differentiate between platinum and silver?

Well, the first question one might ask is simply, why? Why differentiate between platinum and silver – aren’t they just two similar metals that probably have some minor, miniscule differences that only chemistry teachers need to know about?

Well, anyone who knows a thing or two about platinum and silver knows that they are innately different – in rarity, in uses, and in value. If you can’t see the benefits of knowing the differences between platinum and silver, it might be time to sell all of your jewelry back to the jeweler and declare yourself out of the precious metal business.

If you’re not ready to do that, read on. While platinum and silver do share many properties – as any two precious metals would – the differences do amount to quite a bit, and if you’re in the business of selling platinum or silver, or attempting to, knowing these differences will help you know what to sell, who to sell it to, and how much you can get for it.

Knowing these differences will provide you an advantage over the general population, especially if you have an interest in jewelry that goes beyond simply selling old or broken jewelry to brokers. If you want to do well at auctions or buy diamonds in the rough at antique stores, knowing what separates silver from platinum can be your foot in the door for making some great buys and acquisitions, and turning around and selling them for a gigantic profit.

The innate differences between platinum and silver

First, platinum and silver are innately different: this goes beyond appearances and into the properties of the metals themselves. Gold is rarer than silver, and platinum is rarer than gold, meaning platinum is much, much more rare than silver. And if you’re paying attention, that means that platinum will be more valuable than silver to see, because there are less amounts of it, and demand always seems to be high.

Platinum and silver have also enjoyed some differences throughout history, in both culture and civilization. Silver has been used as a standard of currency, providing the backbone to some economies, while platinum has been used as a symbol of royalty and high status. Two metals could not be more different than in the way they’ve been used: while silver has been used in coins to make the simplest of trades, platinum has been made into crowns fit for queens. In other words, silver is the “working class” of the precious metals, and platinum is the “upper class.” Though they often look somewhat similar, the similarities end there.

It will also help to be aware that platinum and silver have different uses and properties. Platinum, in particular, has a very high melting point, giving it a durability and sense of quality. This is one of the reasons that platinum is used to set expensive stones like the Hope Diamond, and not silver. Though they “look” the same, the improved practicality of using platinum from silver in articles of jewelry means a lot to jewelers and metal brokers.

The differences in appearance between platinum and silver

Okay, so you know that silver and platinum are different – quite different. But what about to the eye? Silver and platinum are difficult to differentiate for the untrained eye, but that doesn’t mean they share a similar value. Here is how to tell platinum from silver.

Platinum was used by pre-Columbian natives in America as part of a white alloy of gold and platinum. How was it white? Because platinum itself has a much whiter tint to it than the traditionally, well, silver color of silver. This is a difference that probably stands out the most to the discerning eye.

The added whiteness of platinum gives it a distinctive, bright sheen that silver lacks. Because of this, platinum will often look like an “extra-shiny” silver. If you ever look at a piece of jewelry and wonder how they got silver to look so pure and shiny, you’re probably not actually looking at silver: you’re probably looking at a piece of platinum.

Now that you know both the practicality and ins and outs of knowing the differences between silver and platinum, you can put them to use. You can have a more discerning eye to look with as you ponder over your jewelry box and consider which metals to sell to an online metal broker.