Is Gold Really More Valuable Than Platinum?
A quick glance at the market price charts for Gold and Platinum for 20th May 2016 shows Gold at £27.74 per gram and Platinum at £22.55 per gram. The answer to the question then is obviously Gold – right? https://www.ukbullion.com/live-chart/gold/gbp
Well, not quite.
Platinum has become known as a ‘superior’ metal to Gold in recent years. Platinum credit cards are considered superior to Gold cards, more sales are required to achieve Platinum Disc record sales and so on.
Quantities of Gold and Platinum within the Earth’s crust are estimated to be roughly equal but the Platinum deposits are individually small and more widely spread making extraction much more expensive. With only limited numbers of viable mining sites around the world, Platinum is actually about fifteen times rarer than Gold.
Platinum has traditionally always been more expensive than Gold, in fact 2008 saw Platinum out-price Gold by up to 100%.
The situation that we currently have, where Gold is priced above Platinum, has only occurred twice in the last 24 years, in 2012/2013 and now in 2015/2016. So what has caused this upset in the traditional pricing structure of these two valuable metals?
Is Superiority defined merely by how valuable a metal is?
To shed some light on this pricing ‘mix-up’ we need to look a little deeper into the basic characters of the two metals.
Gold is, and has been for thousands of years, regarded as a store of wealth which is highly valued by most cultures around the World. Use for jewellery and coinage and very limited industrial applications together with the characteristics of malleability and the inability to corrode have joined together over the centuries to reinforce the image of Gold as the ultimate status symbol and protector of value. It is estimated that 85% of Gold production is used up by jewellery and ‘store of value’ products.
Platinum on the other hand, despite its rarity and high production costs, has little of the charisma of Gold. Platinum needs a much higher temperature to melt it and consequently has not been extensively used for jewellery until quite recently due to the lack of high temperature furnace technology.
As a key industrial metal in our modern economy, Platinum prices are influenced by market demand. About one third of Platinum production goes to industrial use and a further third to the automotive industries for use in catalytic converters. Recent turmoil and uncertainty within the automotive sector may well have contributed to the fall in Platinum prices. Perhaps we will now see a reversal in the price differential with Gold as improving demand for cars pushes the Platinum price above Gold once again.