Platinum is one of the rarest and most valuable precious metals in the world. It is highly coveted for jewelry, investments, and industrial uses. But how much exactly is platinum worth? What factors determine its value? In this comprehensive guide, we’ll examine what gives platinum its worth, current platinum prices per ounce, how its price compares to gold, investment demand, industrial uses, and outlook for the future.
What Makes Platinum Valuable?
Several key factors contribute to platinum’s worth:
Platinum is extremely rare. It is 30 times rarer than gold. Only around 130 tons are mined yearly globally. Limited platinum supply heightens its value.
Industrial and Jewelry Demand
Platinum demand comes from automotive, chemical, electronics, jewelry and investment sectors. High industrial needs and rising jewelry demand in China/India raise platinum’s worth.
More than 70% of platinum supply comes from only two countries – South Africa and Russia. This geographic concentration and depleting reserves limits supply, increasing value.
Hedge Against Volatility
Platinum maintains value during financial volatility unlike currencies. Its prestige and price stability make it a hedge against inflation like gold.
Durability and Prestige
Platinum jewelry has prestige from its purity, shine, durability and density. It holds diamonds better than other metals, adding to its worth for high-end jewelry.
Current Prices – Spot, Futures and Historical
The current platinum spot price as of January 2023 is around $1,100 per troy ounce. This is the live platinum price traders pay in commodity markets.
NYMEX platinum futures contracts currently trade around $1,120/ounce for January 2023 and go up to $1,160/ounce for December 2023 contracts. Futures indicate markets expect rising platinum prices this year.
Platinum hit an all-time high of $2,252/ounce in March 2008 but crashed during the financial crisis to under $800. It traded around $1,500 between 2011-2014 before dropping to 10-year lows near $760 recently. It has rebounded above $1,000 since 2021.
How Does Platinum Compare to Gold?
Platinum and gold have similarities, but some key differences affect their value:
- Rarity – Platinum is 30 times rarer than gold in the earth’s crust giving it higher inherent value.
- Supply/Demand – Gold supply/demand is more stable compared to platinum’s volatility in recent years impacting relative prices.
- Industrial Uses – Platinum is heavily used by various industries unlike gold whose demand is dominated by jewelry and investment.
- Jewelry Popularity – Gold jewelry is culturally more popular especially in Asia. Platinum jewelry has prestige in North America, Europe but not as globally desired.
- Investment Demand – Gold has historically attracted greater investment demand as a safe haven asset. Platinum is seen more as an industrial commodity.
These factors make gold currently around 15-20% more valuable than platinum. But platinum still maintains a premium price due to its rarity.
Platinum Demand Drivers
Platinum demand over the last decade has been impacted both positively and negatively by various economic trends:
The automotive industry accounts for around 40% of platinum demand via catalytic converters. Declining auto sales globally from 2018-2020 negatively impacted prices.
Jewelry makes up 30% of demand. Growing platinum jewelry appetite in China and India has uplifted demand.
Platinum coins/bars for individual/institutional investors constitutes around 10% of demand. Holdings in platinum ETFs surged over 2020-2021 increasing investment demand.
Petroleum, chemical and electronics industries use platinum. Reduced economic activity in 2020 lowered industrial demand temporarily.
Automakers have been substituting platinum partially with palladium, which has hurt platinum auto catalyst demand.
Platinum Supply Sources
Platinum supply has high geographic concentration with huge reliance on just two major countries:
- South Africa – South Africa mines around 70% of the world’s platinum, primarily from the Bushveld Igneous Complex. But reserves are declining. Labor strife and power blackouts often disrupt South African platinum production.
- Russia – Russia is the second largest platinum producer, mining around 10% of global supply. Norilsk Nickel is the leading Russian mining company for platinum group metals.
- North America – Remaining platinum comes from North American mines in the Stillwater Complex in Montana as well as Canada and some South American nations like Zimbabwe.
Platinum Price Forecast and Outlook
Analysts expect platinum prices to rise over the next 5 years due to the following positive demand drivers:
- Tightening emissions standards globally will increase platinum use in auto catalysts.
- Growing jewelry demand in Asian markets like China and India.
- Investment demand should remain strong with platinum seen as an undervalued precious metal.
- Limited new platinum reserves will cap supply growth.
Downside risks include further mine labor disputes in South Africa, global recession reducing auto sales, and substitution away from platinum in some industrial uses.
But overall, fundamentals favor platinum’s price climbing back near its historical highs around $1,500+ in the medium-term.
In summary, platinum derives its high value from its rarity, prestige, and wide applications. Its price fluctuates around $1,100 per ounce currently, about 15-20% less than gold. Key demand drivers are industry needs and jewelry appetite in emerging markets. Tight supplies and upbeat demand outlook point to platinum’s price rising over the next 5 years. It remains one of the most widely coveted and expensive metals in the world.