Platinum is a noble metal, with many uses including catalysts, electrical equipment, thermometers, and jewellery. South Africa accounts for nearly 80% of world supply, with US being the heaviest consumer of platinum mainly for the jewellery and automotive industries. Futures and options are a significant part of a group of elements referred to as the platinum group metals (PGMs).
Platinum as an investment has a much shorter history in the financial sector than does either gold or silver, which were known to ancient civilizations. Experts posit that platinum is about 15-20 times scarcer than gold, on the basis of annual mine production. Because of this fact, platinum has nearly always tended to sell at a significant price premium to gold. More than 75% of global platinum is mined in South Africa.
The price of platinum changes along with its supply and demand; during periods of sustained economic stability and growth, the price of platinum tends to be as much as twice the price of gold; whereas, during periods of economic uncertainty, the price of platinum tends to decrease because of reduced demand, falling below the price of gold, partly due to increased gold prices.