History records the first instance that this rare metal was used during the 7th century BC. This is far more than you would rather think it was, as platinum was first used in making caskets in ancient Egypt. Today, however, platinum is recognized as one of the most sought after metal in the bridal market. Moreover, many has favored platinum wedding bands over other metals.
But what is it about platinum that makes it well-liked by both men and women of today?
Identifying a platinum metal
Platinum (recognized with the chemical formula Pt) is greyish white metal that exudes a metallic color that may be taken as somewhat between nickel and silver. Platinum also contains small amounts of other elements such as iron, copper, nickel, gold, as well as some rare earth elements. It has an atomic weight of 195.23. This gives this metal a density almost as high as gold. This means that it is very heavy for the amount of space it takes up. Its scientific atomic symbol is PT and atomic number is 78. In its pure form, it is harder than gold and silver. In jewelry, typically 5% other metals are added to the platinum to make an alloy soft enough to set precious stones securely in the jewelry settings.
Europeans discovered platinum when the Spanish Conquistadors of the 16th century brought it back from the New World. However, it took decades before these rare metals became to be identified as platinum.
Among the attributes that those who have turned over to this rare metal note of the following:
- Platinum is a very durable metal — it is stronger than gold. The market considers its potency and flexibility as its defining attributes. Platinum is designed for its eternal traits. Because of this, many considers platinum for their marriage ceremony rings and other mementos.
- Platinum is considered the heaviest/densest precious metal (approximately 5% heavier than gold). This rare metal has the capacity to withstand to reactions better than gold or silver. It is also is more scratch resistant than gold or silver.
- Platinum is hypoallergenic compared to other metals that usually contain traces of nickel to which some are allergic to, platinum jewelries generally contain 90% or 95% of pure platinum.
- Platinum is more rare than gold, hence is synonymous to prestige (“platinum” credit card vs. “gold” credit card);
- Platinum is best suited for fair and rosy skin toned users.
Platinum in jewelry
Since the 18th century BC, platinum has been widely used in jewellery production. This rare metal is used in crafting all sorts of jewelries like rings, necklaces, bracelets, watches as well as earrings. The number of people who have found platinum to be more appealing, notes that:
- Platinum does not tarnish or oxidize when it is exposed to either air or water. This makes any piece of jewelry made with or of it especially attractive as well as highly. Nonetheless, like gold, it will dissolve when exposed to certain acids.
- It has an appealing silver-white appearance;
- Its hypoallergenic property makes it a better option for people whose skin normally reacts to other metals including a 14k gold.
There are a number of popular jewels like the Star of Africa as well as the Hope Diamond that find its way mounted in platinum settings.
Platinum in other industries
Platinum are not only used in jewelries. Reports claim that more than 20% of manufactured commodities depend on platinum some time within the manufacturing process or in the final product. Certain industries have made used of these rare metal for its unique properties, like in the automobile industry where it is incorporated in the auto design as an exhaust catalyst that transforms hazardous emissions to safe non-toxic substances. The automotive requirement for platinum exhausts about a third of the world’s platinum production.
As platinum is malleable, ductile, and has great technology functions because of its unique properties. For instance, because of it has extremely high melting point (about 3,215 degrees Fahrenheit), it possesses high electrical conductivity as well as powerful catalytic properties. These makes it an ideal element for use in many industrial production processes.
This rare strong and highly malleable metal is used in the production of fiberglass, medicines, chemicals, computers, lasers, petroleum products (gasoline), fiber-optic cables, crude oil refining, fertilizers, synthetic fibers, glass, paints, wires, plating, and even explosives.
Platinum as a form of investment
Because of the previously considered attributes of this rare metal, platinum has likewise been recognized as an investment vehicle. There are a number of countries like the USA, Canada, Australia, Isle of Man, as well as China that now mint platinum coins and market them to investors. Amongst the known platinum bar producers that are sold for investment purposes, include Engelhard, Johnson Matthey, and Credit Suisse. The coins that are minted are in general 99.95% pure and are likewise available in sizes up to 1 ounce.
In general, this rare metal is found in deposits of small grains, dust, or small nuggets that averages from 50 to 75% in purity. Small amounts of platinum are obtained by mining other products. However, this metal is normally found in ores that are mixed with other metals like palladium and gold. Claims report that platinum exists on the earth’s crust at around 5/1000th’s of a gram per metric ton of earth.
Not only does the difficulty of mining the metal which is the current concern, but the number of locations where it may be found as well. Most platinum is mined in South Africa, Russia, as well as in North America. Half of the world’s supply come from South Africa (to 2/3rds of the world supply). Next to Africa is Russia. There are quite small percentage of metal production in the North American mine, however.
Because of the usual imbalance in the supply and demand of this rare metal, changes in mining or usage, even a minor one, may have dramatic implications. For example, at current consumption rate, if platinum mining will be put to a halt, ground supplies would last only for a couple years. However, world gold supplies might last ten times longer. Ground availability of platinum has been recorded to be tight even in times when there is a relatively normal production of the metal. Hence, as platinum is such a vital material for many industries, and considering the rarity of this metal, the US Government has categorized platinum as a “strategic metal”.