Sunday, October 21, 2012

10 Things You Did Not Know About Platinum

Okay, you know platinum is one of the most popular metals used to make high-end jewelry products, but did you know:
1.       Platinum is 35% rarer than gold – More than 1,700 tons of gold are mined annually; compare that to only 130+ tons of Platinum. Platinum and gold are both very rare because they both come to earth from space rocks; they have never been, and never will be formed on Earth because they‘re physical properties won’t allow it. Any element that is heavier than iron is typically formed when a star becomes a supernova. You could literally fit all of the platinum ever mined on Earth into an average-sized living room.
2.       Platinum has one of the highest melting points – it melts at 3,215 degrees. For this reason it is commonly used to make crucibles and other lab equipment.
3.       The platinum you buy is rarely pure – it’s not very strong so it’s commonly alloyed with other metals like palladium, ruthenium, and iridium. Unless you’re buying platinum for investment purposes it is probably not pure.
4.       Platinum supply is not protected by stockpiles – unlike gold and silver there aren’t any massive above-ground platinum bullion stockpiles maintained to protect against sudden supply shortage.
5.       Platinum is the heaviest precious metal – A single cubic foot of it weighs a bit more than 1,330 pounds – so even if you were an Olympic bodybuilder, you’d be able to fit your arms around it easily, but lifting it more than a few inches would still be nearly impossible.
6.       Most platinum comes from 2 countries – South Africa and Russia supply 90% of the world’s platinum, and almost all of the platinum mined in South Africa is used to fulfill industrial needs. That means almost all platinum used for jewelry comes from Russia.
7.       Platinum was once only legal for industrial uses – during World War II the U.S. government declared it a strategic metal and temporarily banned its use in jewelry and all other non-industrial applications, so no one was allowed to buy or sell platinum unless it was going to be used for an approved purpose.
8.       It can’t be scratched (technically) – alright that’s kind of a half-truth. Platinum CAN be scratched, but unlike Gold and Silver it will not lose any mass when it is scratched (if it is pure). In other words, the metal will simply be dented inwards, not scraped off the surface.
9.       It is a diamond’s best friend – Platinum is used to secure all of the world’s most famous diamonds, including the Jonker I, the Koh-I-Noor, and the world-renowned Hope diamond.
10.   It is absurdly difficult to mine and refine – it takes a starting supply of ten tons of ore and a five-month refining process just to produce one ounce of top-grade platinum bullion.

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