Platinum is a chemical element with the symbol Pt and atomic number 78.
Its name is derived from the Spanish term platino, meaning “little silver.”
It is a dense, malleable and ductile metal and has a beautiful silver-white color.
Platinum a precious metal, meaning that it is very rare and valuable.
It is one of the rarest elements in the Earth‘s crust and only a few hundred tonnes are produced annually.
Platinum is a remarkably durable metal with resistance to corrosion and tarnishing.
It has the third highest density of all of the elements, topped only by osmium and iridium.
Platinum has extremely high melting point at 1768 °C (3215 °F).
It is the second most valued precious metal, only rhodium is more valuable; but its value exceeds even that of gold.
Platinum is used in jewelry, laboratory equipment, electrical contacts, dentistry, and automobile emissions control devices.
Naturally occurring platinum appears to have been used by the craftsmen of ancient Egypt. Specifically, the famous Casket of Thebes was found to be adorned with platinum, along with gold and silver.
Native inhabitants of parts of South America also used it for jewelry long before the arrival of Europeans.
It was referenced in European writings as early as 16th century, but it was not until Antonio de Ulloa published a report on a new metal of Colombian origin in 1748 that it began to be investigated by scientists.
In the 1780s, King Louis XVI of France [picture below] declared platinum the “only metal fit for kings” after his jeweler, Marc-Etienne Janety, fashioned several platinum pieces for him.
The frame of the Crown of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, manufactured for her Coronation as Consort of King George VI, is made of platinum. It was the first British Crown to be made of that metal.
Peter Carl Fabergé used platinum to create his famous Easter eggs starting in 1884.
In the early 1900s, Louis Cartier began using platinum to craft jewelry for royalty around the world, and platinum truly started to gain stature.
Many famous gems such as the Hope Diamond [photo below] are set in platinum, and delicate jewelry designs are often crafted in platinum, which is a testament to its durability and ability to hold precious stones securely.
Today, platinum is associated with style, elegance and timelessness.
Platinum’s attractiveness comes from its beautiful luster, resistance to tarnishing (unlike other white metals), and metal strength.
The world’s most important deposits occur in South Africa (about 80%). Other deposits are found in Russia, Finland, Ireland, India, Borneo, New South Wales, New Zealand, Brazil, Peru, and Madagascar. In North America native platinum is found in Alaska, California, and Oregon, in British Columbia, and in Alberta.
Platinum exists in higher abundances on the Moon and in meteorites.
The platinum-group metals are six noble, precious metallic elements clustered together in the periodic table. They are ruthenium, rhodium, palladium, osmium, iridium, and platinum. They have similar physical and chemical properties, and tend to occur together in the same mineral deposits.
When World War II began, the US government declared platinum a strategic metal and its use in non-military applications, including jewelry, was disallowed. To appease consumers, who preferred platinum’s white luster, white gold was substituted in platinum’s absence.
In America, platinum jewelry contains either 90% or 95% pure platinum. By comparison, 18 karat gold is 75% pure and 14 karat is 58% pure gold.
Platinum’s rarity as a metal has caused advertisers to associate it with exclusivity and wealth. “Platinum” debit and credit cards have greater privileges than “gold” cards. “Platinum awards” are the second highest possible, ranking above “gold”, “silver” and “bronze”, but below diamond. For example, in the United States, a musical album that has sold more than 1 million copies will be credited as “platinum”, whereas an album that has sold more than 10 million copies will be certified as “diamond.”