Live platinum prices can be confusing if you don’t know what the price represents. The term “spot platinum price” may be unheard of for many platinum speculators, and that’s a problem.
It’s important to understand the foundations of how to read platinum prices. This guide explains their main drivers.
We also explore whether platinum is a popular metal among traders, why that may be so, and a brief history on how platinum prices came to be typically quoted in USD.
Read on to learn about the practical and sentimental drivers of platinum’s spot price (+ what the spot price actually represents), ways to trade, and where you can buy or sell the metal online.
What Moves Spot Platinum Prices Today?
If you’ve read our guides on gold prices and silver prices, you may have an idea of the main price drivers we’ll discuss for platinum. Like other precious metals, platinum is a metal found in rocks. Most mining for platinum happens deep underground, and so heavy machinery is needed to extract the ore.
Machines also play a key part in processing and refining the platinum that we see on the market as consumers, or as part of some everyday tools like cars, buses, jewelry, and more.
Technology is a core driver of platinum spot prices, but it’s secondary. Without the natural ore formations underground, there is nothing to extract platinum from in the first place — this is what we’ll explain next.
The spot price of platinum simply represents the price at which the metal can be purchased or sold at the present time. It is the current monetary value of a specific weight unit(s) of platinum, typically ounces.
How Nature Drivers Platinum Prices
Platinum supplies are far from unlimited. The metal is actually scarcer than gold and is far more desirable industrially due to its anti-corrosive, yet easily shapeable properties.
When we look at the price of a precious metal like platinum, we need to understand the entire extraction, processing, and refining chain. But we also need to understand the socio-political and economical situation of the world. Platinum is mined underground and is mostly broken up by explosives. Miners then extract these ores and spend up to several months processing them.
In terms of weight, this means is that a single troy ounce of platinum (see how much that is) can require the mining of more than ten tonnes of ore.
Naturally, the deeper we go, the tougher the ground. That means more and stronger explosives, better machinery, and more energy to not only build but operate that machinery.
Recently the World Platinum Investment Council stated an expected increase in demand that may result in a struggle to keep up the supplies. This calls for higher platinum prices, as well as for mining companies to find a balance between energy efficiency and the growth of existing operations.
Should environment-friendly precious metal mining regulations be enacted, we could see a hike in platinum prices. This takes us to technology, machinery, and the platinum market.
Consumer Economy, Technology, and Platinum Prices
Platinum consumers exist in both retail and commercial markets. Commercial consumers are companies that purchase platinum to create products like jewelry and catalytic converters that end up in retail consumers’ hands.
A good example of how the market and technology impacts platinum prices, is transportation. Electric cars are replacing diesel and petrol-powered vehicles in many parts of the world. Countries like Germany and Norway are already banning diesel cars in some cities.
Since electric cars don’t need catalytic converters, one of the key components of vehicles that require platinum, there’s a continuous drop in demand. That said, this plunge may be countered with other sources of demand, like platinum to produce fuel cells. Hydrogen-fuelled vehicles need platinum as a catalyst to produce fuel, so that could be the reason for a future upswing.
The pharmaceutical industry also uses platinum in many drugs, though this is also a demand source that can fluctuate with increased interest in natural remedies.
An example of relatively steady demand is the jewelry industry. Platinum accessories have been around and will be for a while, whether it be affordable silvery, white-gold style necklace, or platinum rings to house shiny diamonds in luxury jewelers’ displays.
The constant fluctuation of demand in relation to the latest mining, processing, and refining technologies are then married by two further market control measures to present the platinum prices we see today — regulation of platinum supplies by industrial powerhouses and government organizations, as well as environmental laws.
How Is Platinum Weighed?
Platinum bullion bars, ingots, and coins are rarer to find than gold and silver. For this reason, we may hear of platinum prices of larger-weight units.
That said, the standard spot platinum price on speculators’ markets, futures exchanges, and broker listings are mostly presented in price per ounce, or price per troy ounce.
Bullion dealers may list smaller quantities of platinum in price per gram, too.
Here’s a summary of some more and less common weight units you may come across when exploring platinum prices:
- Grams (g): The smallest common weight unit used to present platinum prices. Other smaller units we may encounter in scientific journals are milligrams (0.001 gram) and micrograms (1e-6 g).
- Ounce (oz): Approximately 28 grams, an ounce is the standard weight unit for most platinum dealers, both retail and commercial.
- Troy Ounce (t oz): It is rarer to see platinum prices listed in troy ounces, but some bullion dealers might. A troy ounce is equal to 31.1034768 grams.
- Kilogram (kg): One kilogram is exactly 1,000 grams. You may see platinum prices in kilograms in larger volume markets.
- Tonne (t): When huge volumes of refined platinum shift on the market, we may hear of tonnes alongside millions and billions of US dollars. A tonne of platinum consists of 1,000 kilograms, or one million grams.
- Tael (in traditional Chinese: 兩): A Chinese unit of measurement, now standardized to 50g. Markets with Chinese relations may list platinum in taels. Other precious metals like gold have 37.5g tael bars.
- Tola (in Hindi: तोला): An ancient South Asian weight unit equivalent to 3/8th of a troy ounce, which is about 11.66 grams. Large platinum reserves can be found in South India, so you may encouner platinum prices in tolas there.
Why Is Platinum So Rare and Relatively Cheap?
“Rarer than gold.” That should say something about the precious white metal, platinum, and its live prices today.
There isn’t much platinum in the world. And platinum-containing ores take a long time to form. Besides, more than ten times as much gold is mined each year as platinum, so this shows it is scarce.
We might wonder, then, why is platinum cheaper than gold? It has a far more influential degree of practical use and there’s less of it.
Platinum does not carry such fashion and store-of-value reputation as gold does. Partially as a result of these psychological biases, the price of gold is almost twice as high as that of platinum.
We can agree that platinum is a popular precious metal since its use cases are essential to industries we rely on today, even if the demand landscape is changing with the increase of green energy consumption.
What Currencies Is Platinum Quoted In?
Unlike with gold and silver, there is no such thing as platinum standard.
That’s not to say platinum has never been a great store of value and unit of trade. It’s a metal that’s been around for some time. But with a less prominent history than other popular precious metals, it just hasn’t carried as much value until recent technological advances.
When you browse the website of international bullion dealers, common currencies to display live platinum prices may include USD, EUR, JPY, CNY, AUD, and similar leading domestic currencies.
Still, platinum is mostly quoted in US dollars as a result of the dollar being the world reserve currency.
Ways to Trade Platinum
Platinum price speculators may be familiar with popular futures exchanges where platinum prices can be bet on. One such is the London Metal Exchange.
However, there are other ways to get involved with platinum, like physical ownership. Below we highlight the ups, downs, and responsibilities carried by particular ways to trade platinum.
|Trading Method||Ownership||Management Costs||Security Costs||Expiry Date||Mgmt Cost||Leverage|
Platinum Bulion Dealers
Bullion dealers with a wide range of platinum products are scarce, but they’re around. We’ve reviewed the following bullion dealers where you may find platinum bars, coins, or ingots:
Learn More About Platinum
Commodity.com has other guides on platinum that can help you better understand live platinum prices and what they indicate. Here are some of the more popular ones:
- Platinum As A Commodity: A detailed guide to how it’s mined, processed, refined, and what it’s primarily used for (+ expert opinions)
- Platinum Trading: For those who want to start trading platinum-related products, this is the go-to guide.
- Platinum Bullion Dealers: While not many bullion dealers sell platinum, there are a few that have the occasional bar or coin up for grabs. This guide also explains how to choose a bullion dealer and what additional costs you can expect.
- Stock Broker Guide: Platinum may be easier to speculate on through mining company stocks. This guide explains how to choose a reputable online stock broker.
- Precious Metal Guide: A generic guide on what metals are classed as “precious” and how you can access them on the market.
- Futures and Commodity Exchanges: Many of these listed exchanges allow you to speculate on present and future platinum prices.
Some of the following economic overviews include key player nations in the global platinum economy:
- South Africa: The world’s largest platinum exporter
- United Kingdom: Second biggest platinum exporter with an over 10% market share
- Switzerland: Over $1bn in platinum exports each year
Is platinum cheaper than gold?
Yes, while rarer and arguably a more practical natural resource for everyday items and tools that we use, platinum is actually cheaper than gold. Current platinum prices per ounce are almost half of gold’s per-ounce cost. You can read more about why this might be.
Is platinum worth buying?
Whether platinum is worth buying depends on the overall environmental, technological, and economical factors that contribute to platinum’s current live price. On this page, we discuss the main drivers of platinum spot prices, so you can start there and do further research to decide whether you want to buy platinum or not.