Whenever someone mentions the term “precious metals” two different metals come to mind. The first of these is gold, a material that has held a high market value for thousands of years now. Over time, gold has cemented itself as the ideal metal for jewelry, currency, lavish architecture, and even certain electronic circuits.
On the other hand, we have platinum, a relatively new metal that quickly became a status symbol in the world of jewelry as it looks exceptional with diamonds and other gems. A portion of platinum’s value also comes from the chemicals industry as it is used as a catalyst in the production of nitric acid, benzene, and silicone.
While both of them have their strengths and uses, today we are focused on determining which of the two is more expensive. Let’s compare gold and platinum to find the one with a higher market value.
Understanding Platinum and Gold
There are a lot of similarities between gold and platinum, such as their status as both noble and precious metals. However, there are also a few aspects of these metals that differ from each other in significant ways. Here’s how they stack up against each other.
One of the most prominent differences between gold and platinum is their color. Freshly cut gold has a bright yellow color with a metal sheen, while platinum’s color is more akin to silver.
In terms of weight, platinum is 11% more dense than gold — making it the heavier of the two. This might sound a bit counterintuitive as gold is heavier on an atomic level, but platinum’s atoms are packed together more tightly.
Additionally, gold has a melting point of 1,064 °C (1,947.2 °F) while platinum metals at 1,768 °C (3,214.4 °F). This makes gold easier to work with for jewelry and other similar purposes.
Both gold and platinum are noble metals — making them highly resistant to corrosion. This is one of the biggest reasons why they’re such good retainers of value as they will not erode over time. Both are also resistant to most acids and will not dissolve in them.
Gold is usually mined in the USA, South Africa, Russia, Canada, and Australia. China also holds about 7% of the global gold reserves.
Platinum, on the other hand, is mostly mined from South Africa, followed by Russia, Zimbabwe, and Canada.
In terms of global availability, gold is way more abundant than platinum. For reference, a staggering 3,100 metric tons of gold was produced in 2022. During the same time, only 190 metric tons of platinum entered the market. While 190 metric tons is still a lot, it is over 16 times less than gold.
Historical Price Trends of Platinum and Gold
Let’s analyze the historic price trends of gold and platinum to understand how they have varied over time.
Going back about 100 years, the price of gold was around 370-380 USD per ounce in 1922-23. This comes out to nearly 7,000 USD when adjusted for inflation. This frankly high price makes sense as mining gold was a lot harder back then without the industrial mining equipment we have today.
Jumping a bit in time, we see a sharp increase in gold’s price between the early and mid-1970s. During this time, the price of gold went from ~280 USD per ounce to over 1,080 USD in 1974.
Fast forward six more years and the price of gold reached nearly 2,600 USD per ounce. This is still the highest recorded price of gold within the last century.
In 2001, the price of gold was back down to just ~460 USD per ounce — less than five times the peak of 1980, although it did recover over the next decade and reached nearly 2,400 USD by 2011.
Some notable events that had an impact on gold’s price in recent history include:
1971 Nixon shock
In 1971, President Nixon abandoned the gold standard which led to a massive increase in gold’s price;
The 1979-1980 Iranian revolution led to global financial instability which led to more investors storing their assets in gold — increasing its price;
2008 financial crisis
The global financial crisis of 2008 resulted in a loss of confidence in financial markets. Investors sought refuge in safe-haven assets, including gold, leading to a significant increase in its price.
For platinum, we only found accurate price data dating back to 1969. At that time, one ounce of platinum was sold at about 230 USD. When adjusted for inflation, this equates to about 1,920 USD — significantly lower than gold.
The next big spike in platinum’s price was in 1980 as it reached a peak of 960 USD per ounce due to the same factors as gold. After that, the market price of platinum hovered between the 350 and 450 USD per ounce range till 1999.
After that, it started going up and reached an all-time high of 2,180 USD in February of 2008. Unfortunately, this price did not last long as it dropped back down to the ~780 USD range by December of the same year.
Here are some historic events that contributed to volatility in platinum’s price over the years:
World war II
Platinum is a key component in the production of nitric acid, which is — in turn — used to produce gunpowder. Due to this use, platinum was deemed a strategic metal and was restricted for non-military use in the United States. This led to disruptions in the platinum market and contributed to volatility in its price.
1980s South African mining strikes
As we discussed above, South Africa is the largest producer of platinum by a wide margin. So, labor strikes in South Africa disrupted mining operations in the 1980s. This led to supply shortages, driving up the price of platinum.
2008 financial crisis
Similar to gold, the 2008 financial crisis also had a massive impact on platinum’s price. But, unlike gold which shot up in price and kept rising, the per ounce price of platinum plummeted drastically within a year.
Factors Influencing the Value of Platinum and Gold
Analyzing the historic price trends of gold and platinum gives us unique insight into the intrinsic market value and sentiment towards these metals. However, isolated incidents like the 2008 financial crisis do not tell the full story.
In reality, there are a handful of general factors that can impact the prices of gold and platinum. Here’s how these factors influence the price of these two metals:
Economic factors play a crucial role in determining the value of platinum and gold. Both metals are considered safe-haven assets, with their prices often influenced by economic uncertainties. During times of economic instability or downturns, investors tend to seek the perceived safety of gold, driving up its price.
However, as we mentioned above, a significant portion of platinum’s value comes from its industrial uses. So if the industrial demand goes down due to a financial crisis, the price of platinum could also fall like it did in 2008.
Platinum and gold have distinct industrial applications. Platinum is a key component in catalytic converters, fuel cells, and various industrial processes. Changes in industrial demand, especially in the automotive and technology sectors, can significantly affect platinum prices.
On the other hand, gold's industrial applications are limited, and its value is more closely tied to its role as a store of value and a symbol of wealth.
In essence, if we discover a new industrial use for either of these metals, their demand — and subsequently price — will rise.
Speculation and investor sentiment can lead to short-term fluctuations in the prices of both platinum and gold.
Gold is often influenced by speculative trading due to its status as a safe-haven asset. On the other hand, platinum's price can be more sensitive to shifts in market sentiment, given its dual role as an industrial metal and a precious metal.
Supply and production
The supply dynamics of platinum and gold differ. Gold is often mined for the sole purpose of accumulating wealth, and its production is relatively consistent.
Platinum, however, is influenced not only by mining activities but also by factors like labor strikes, particularly in major producing countries like South Africa.
The higher abundance of gold also makes its supply more consistent on a global scale.
Current Market Scenario
At the time of writing, the prices of gold and platinum are as follows:
One of the most significant recent events that influenced the prices of these metals is the COVID-19 pandemic. Large-scale shutdowns brought a level of uncertainty in the global economy.
Due to this, the price of gold surged to ~2,340 USD per ounce in 2020, while the market price of platinum dropped to ~640 USD during the same time frame.
As you might notice, this increase in gold’s price and decrease in platinum’s price is similar to what happened during the 2008 economic crisis.
For both, gold and platinum, exports forecast an upward trend going into the next couple of years. This is likely due to the renewed interest in precious metals in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, as investors seek alternative assets and hedges against rising inflation levels.
Uses in Industry and Jewelry
Let’s take a step back from price trends and forecasts and look at the actual uses of these precious metals, besides wealth storage.
Both gold and platinum are highly desirable materials in the world of jewelry. This is a no-brainer for gold as we’ve found gold jewelry dating back to the year 4600 BC.
Platinum, on the other hand, is a relative newcomer with its discovery in 1735. That said, it has quickly earned a secure spot as a particularly elegant match for precious gems.
Collectively, market interest in these metals for jewelry is as robust as ever. It also doesn't show any sign of slowing down anytime soon.
When it comes to industrial uses, platinum is the clear winner as it is a key component in chemical, electrical, medical, petroleum, and automotive industries.
Gold, by comparison, has limited use in mainly electronics. It's also used to a much smaller extent in the automotive and medical industries.
If you’re interested in these precious metals as an investment, here’s what you need to know:
Gold is often touted as the best investment and that sentiment is accurate to an extent. Looking at historic events, we can see many instances of gold outperforming investments like real estate and stocks, especially during times of economic uncertainty.
Platinum is by no means a bad investment. But, it would be fair to say that it is not as stable as gold due to its reliance on industrial demand. That said, this could all change in the future as more and more people start seeing platinum as a viable investment alongside gold.
In essence, both gold and platinum have their own place in the modern-day market. For jewelry, both are well-matched in their desirability and utility. Other than that, gold has proven to be the better storage of value, while the number of industrial uses of platinum keeps increasing.
To answer the initial question, platinum is not more expensive than gold despite its higher rarity. Currently, the price of gold is more than double that of platinum in the global market.