Platinum is a rare precious metal with unique attributes. It is sought after for its beauty, chemical properties and economic value. Platinum is in demand across four key segments: automotive, jewellery, industrial and investment.
Diverse as these segments may be, they share one common requirement – assurance that the metal being used is actually platinum. Platinum is rarely used in its purest form; it is usually alloyed with other metals for workability, durability and wearability.
The purity of platinum is described by its ‘fineness’, expressed in parts per thousand, with pure platinum being at least 999 parts fine, or 99.9 per cent pure.
Hallmarking platinum jewellery
Platinum jewellery has achieved global premier status. In Japan, China and the US it is the preferred choice of brides and grooms.
Buyers of platinum jewellery want to be sure that what they are buying is genuinely platinum.This is especially important to avoid confusion between platinum and white gold, as they are similar in appearance. White gold is an alloy, containing other metals to achieve its colour.
In most markets, platinum jewellery is 950 parts per thousand, compared to 18 carat gold which is 750. Platinum’s higher concentration means that buyers get a purer product that is beautiful, durable and hypoallergenic. Platinum is also denser than gold, so weightier when worn, giving it a quality feel.
Platinum’s purity is indicated on every genuine piece of platinum jewellery through a hallmark (for example Pt950), a symbol that reassures consumers the metal they are buying is authentic.
Hallmarking is achieved following a process of verification known as ‘assaying’, which is a way of independently testing an item to confirm the amount of pure metal in the alloy. In most countries, such as the UK, hallmarking is a legal requirement.
Assurance for investors
The London Platinum and Palladium Market is the major trading centre for platinum bullion. It operates the Good Delivery List, which sets out the minimum standards for platinum traded across its market.
Refiners of platinum must satisfy stringent requirements to be accepted on to the List, and platinum bars must conform to strict criteria which govern purity and size, including markings detailing fineness and weight. In China, Shenzhen Hengfu Yingjia and CNOOC Taiyuan have both recently launched platinum bar products for retail investors produced by Metalor, a Good Delivery refiner.
All of this is good news for investors who are seeking exposure to platinum, be it through online bullion accounts, physical bars or physically-backed exchanged traded funds.
As long as the underlying platinum has Good Delivery status, they can have confidence that it meets internationally recognised and independently verified quality standards.