Platinum is a silvery-white metal that’s the rarest of all the popular precious metals. Like gold, silver, and palladium, platinum has a wide range of uses.
For instance, you probably know many pieces of jewelry contain platinum. But did you also know dentistry, catalytic converters and pacemakers contain platinum?
Considered a prestigious metal, platinum is highly desired and valuable. So far in 2021, the platinum price has ranged from about $1,000 per troy ounce to a bit above $1,300, according to Kitco.com.
Here are some more fun facts about platinum:
How Platinum got its Name
Archaeologists have discovered traces of platinum used in Egyptian burials dating back to 1200 BCE. Pre-Colombian Americans also presumably used platinum in the La Tolita Culture (600 BCE to 200 CE).
But for Europeans and Asians, platinum was entirely unknown for a long time (other than the Egyptians).
The first European reference to platinum was in 1557 in the writings of Italian humanist Julius Caesar Scaliger. Scaliger described an unknown noble metal found in Mexico that couldn’t melt.
The Spanish began encountering platinum around this time, too. They saw it as an impurity of gold and silver, and they usually threw it away! Thus, the Spaniards dubbed the metal platina, which means “little silver.”
We get the English word “platinum” from the Spanish root platina.
Platinum is extremely rare
Another of the fun facts about platinum: it’s 30 times rarer than gold. The world produces nearly 14 times more gold than platinum! That’s one reason platinum sometimes goes by the nickname “Rich Man’s Gold.”
The majority (about 80%) of the world’s platinum comes from mines in South Africa. The rest of the world’s platinum comes from Russia and North and South America, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
Platinum has many uses – not just in jewelry. For example, nearly half of the world’s mined platinum is used in vehicle catalytic converters, according to Total Materia. This is because platinum and other platinum group metals are strong enough to withstand high temperatures required to reduce emissions from vehicles.
Platinum is Highly Desirable in Jewelry
Platinum is the strongest of all precious metals used for jewelry. It’s also the most expensive, prestigious, and exclusive.
Most platinum jewelry comes with high purity ratings and contains 85% to 95% platinum. This purity rating is a lot compared to gold. For example, 18-karat gold contains only 75% gold. With platinum, jewelry with less than 80% purity isn’t even considered platinum.
Platinum’s high purity rating is one reason why it’s so expensive in a jewelry piece. It’s also so expensive because crafting platinum jewelry requires specialized tools, higher temperatures, and greater expertise from the jeweler.
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