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General Info
Atomic Symbol Atomic symbol::Pt
Atomic Number Atomic number::78
Atomic Weight Atomic weight::195.1 g/mol
Chemical series Transition metals
Appearance Metallic
Platinum element.jpg
Group, Period, Block 10, 6, d
Electron configuration [Xe] 4s14 5d9 6s1
Electrons per shell 2, 8, 18, 32, 17, 1
Electron shell platinum.png
CAS number CAS number::7440-06-4
Physical properties
Phase solid
Density Density::21.45 g/cm3 g/ml
Melting point Melting point::1,769°C
Boiling point Boiling point::3,827° C
Isotopes of Platinum
iso NA half-life DT DE (MeV) DP
166Pt NA 300 microseconds α
167Pt NA 0.7 milliseconds α
168Pt NA 2.0 milliseconds α
169Pt NA 5 milliseconds α
170Pt NA 13.8 milliseconds α
171Pt NA 34 milliseconds α+E
172Pt NA 0.096 seconds α+E
173Pt NA 376 milliseconds α+E
174Pt NA 0.889 seconds α+E
175Pt NA 2.4 seconds α+E
176Pt NA 6.33 seconds α+E
177Pt NA 11 seconds α+E
178Pt NA 21.1 seconds α+E
179Pt NA 21.2 seconds α+E
180Pt NA 52 seconds α+E
181Pt NA 52.0 seconds α+E
182Pt NA 3.0 minutes α+E
183Pt NA 6.5 minutes α+E
183mPt NA 43 seconds α+E+i
184Pt NA 17.3 minutes α+E
185Pt NA 70.9 minutes α+E
185mPt NA 33.0 minutes α+E+i
186Pt NA 2.08 hours α+E
187Pt NA 2.35 hours E
188Pt NA 10.2 days α+E
189Pt NA 10.87 hours E
190Pt NA 6.5×10+11 years α
191Pt NA 2.802 days E
192Pt stable NA is stable with NA neutrons.
193Pt NA 50 years E
193mPt NA 4.33 days i
194Pt stable NA is stable with NA neutrons.
195Pt stable NA is stable with NA neutrons.
195mPt NA 4.02 days i
196Pt stable NA is stable with NA neutrons.
197Pt NA 19.8915 hours β-
197mPt NA 95.41 minutes β-+i
198Pt stable NA is stable with NA neutrons.
199Pt NA 30.80 minutes β-
199mPt NA 13.6 seconds i
200Pt NA 12.5 hours β-
201Pt NA 2.5 minutes β-
202Pt NA 44 hours β-
All properties are for STP unless otherwise stated.

Platinum is a chemical element that is considered a precious metal, meaning that it is very rare and valuable. It was discovered by Julius Caesar Scaliger and later documented by Don Antonio de Ulloa, which began the platinum age in Spain and eventually worldwide. Platinum is a remarkably durable element with extremely high density and resistance to tarnishing. For these reasons, it is used extensively as an autocatalyst in jewelry, medical and scientific supplies, weapons, and electrical equipment. Platinum is mined primarily in South Africa, Canada, and the United States. Due to the recent economic crisis, the price of platinum has decreased and then amplified significantly over the last few years and now costs approximately $1724 per troy ounce. [1]


Platinum is silver-gray in color and is very lustrous. It is an extremely tarnish resistant and durable element and has the third highest density of all of the elements, topped only by osmium and iridium. It is extremely malleable and can be hammered into sheets thinner than those of aluminum foil. Its extreme density and ductility allows it to be drawn out into thin wires which have many uses. Platinum is resistant to the effects of both water and air, but will dissolve in hot substances such as aqua regia and molten alkali, as well as in concentrated phosphoric and sulphuric acids.[2]

Platinum has six naturally occurring isotopes: platinum-190, platinum-192, platinum-194, platinum-195, platinum-196, and platinum-198. All of the isotopes, except for of platinum-190, are stable and have a natural abundances of between 0.782% and 33.832%. Platinum-190, therefore, is radioactive and has been announced as having a half-life of 6.5×10+11 years and a natural abundance of 0.014%.[3]


This is an image of the Potgietersus Platinum Mine Limited in South Africa.

Platinum was first documented by Julius Caesar Scaliger, an Italian physician, scholar, and poet, while he was visiting Central America in 1557. American natives called the tough metal “platina,” meaning “little silver.” Platinum had no known use at the time and so, as it often inhibited the natives’ efforts while mining for silver and gold, it became known as a nuisance. It was not until between 1735 and 1746 that platinum was again taken note of. A Spanish military leader during the time, Don Antonio de Ulloa, collected and wrote a report on platinum while being stationed in South America. It is because of his report that de Ulloa, and not Scaliger, is recognized for the discovery of the precious metal. After de Ulloa’s reports reached Spain, many craftsmen recognized its potential for jewelry, as it was noncorrosive. This began the “Platinum Age" in Spain.[1]

Platinum is formed in rivers out of igneous rock and in magmatic sediments in the earth's mantle primarily. Platinum occurs mainly in South Africa, Canada, and the U.S. Because platinum does not form in large masses, the abundance of platinum in the earth’s crust is 0.01 grams per ton. It is usually obtained while mining for other minerals such as copper and nickel. In 1996, South Africa, the largest supplier of platinum, produced approximately 117,000 kilograms of platinum. Canada, in second place, produced a meager 8,260 kilograms in comparison. In third place, the U.S. produced even less from its primary platinum factories in Montana and Alaska.[4] [1]


This is a princess cut sapphire and diamond ring set in a platinum channel band

There are many uses for platinum as it is extremely durable, can be electrically charged, and does not react with most other elements. However, because of its rarity, platinum is usually only used in situations where no alternative is available. The most predominant and possibly surprising use for platinum is as an autocatalyst. Fifty percent of the platinum demand in 2006 was towards controlling vehicle exhaust of hydro-carbons, carbon monoxide, oxides of nitrogen, and particulate. Platinum works in tandem with palladium and rhodium to convert carbon monoxide emissions into less harmful products such as carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and water vapor.[5]

The second largest use for platinum, at twenty-five percent demand for the 2006 production, is jewelry. Because of its durability, resistance to tarnishing, and fantastic brilliance when pure, platinum is a metal coveted for jewelry.[5]

Six percent of the 2006 stock of platinum was utilized in electronics. Platinum is specifically used in disk drive coatings and fiber optic cables. Other uses for platinum in the furtherance of technology include temperature gauging instruments and scientific lab equipment. Because platinum does not react with many other elements, it provides stable and consistent uses for science or health laboratories.[5]

Other miscellaneous uses for platinum include: fertilizers, explosives, cancer treatment, glass-making equipment, catalysts in the petroleum industry, spark plugs, fuel cells, and personal investments.[6] The price of platinum, along with other numerous precious metals, has been on the rise recently. Platinum alone has increased in value over twenty percent to $1720 per troy ounce as of late.[5]

Platinum in Jewelry

Platinum jewelry is the most commonly recognized use of Platinum. From mines in South Africa, the platinum can be used to make a wide assortment of rings, necklaces, earrings, and other delicate adornments. The six metals recognized as being a part of the Platinum Group Metals (PGM); platinum, iridium, palladium, ruthenium, rhodium, and osmium; are used in jewelry manufacturing. Platinum is the most expensive metal to make jewelry with, specifically because of its rarity; however, it is also one of the best materials with which to make jewelry trinkets and is therefore very popular. Platinum jewelry is well received, regardless of its inflated pricing, because of its durability, strength, and sheen. Because of its strength, platinum is preferred for jewelry set with stones, such as rings. The stronger the prongs of a ring or necklace are, the more security there is in not having them wear down to the point of having the stone fall out and possibly becoming lost. Platinum is sometimes confused with white gold, but there are, however, distinctly different materials. Platinum jewelry is made almost exclusively of platinum, being 95% pure. White gold, contrastingly, is made from a combination of silver and palladium and is typically coated with rhodium. The rhodium coating gives the ring its white sheen and covers the grayish color of the silver and palladium alloy. Overall, platinum is stronger, more dependable, and more remarkable than any other metal or metal alloy when concerning jewelry. Its ability to match stones remarkably and last many years without becoming tarnished makes it well worth its high price.[7] [8]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 PLATINUMChemistry Explained, Advameg Inc., Accesed January 21, 2010.
  2. Platinum - Pt Lenntech Water treatment & purification, Accessed January 21, 2011.
  3. Isotopes of the Element Platinum Steve Gagnon, Jefferson Lab, Accessed January 21, 2011.
  4. Platinum: Occurrence Nautilus.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Platinum Prices Platinum Today, Accessed Janueary 21, 2011.
  6. Platinum Uses Info Comm, Accessed January 21, 2011.
  7. [1]Shalina Khemlani, 2004.
  8. White gold vs. platinumGillett's Jewellers, Accesed January 21, 2011.