Platinum was known to people in the first half of 18th century, and the first reference to it dates back to the 16th century in the writings of Italian physician, scholar, and poet Julius Caesar Scaliger. The metal had been called platina ("little silver").
During the 19th century, platinum was very difficult to metalsmith. It was often mixed with iridium in order to mold it into jewelry. Around the turn of the 20th century, Russia made several significant platinum deposit discoveries and began to produce 90% of the world's platinum. At the same time, advances in metalsmithing made the use of pure platinum more common.
Today, supplies of platinum are concentrated in South Africa, which accounts for approximately 80% of supply; Russia, 11%; and North America, 6%.
Platinum's metallic properties make it highly attractive in a variety of commercial and industrial applications. Jewelry creates the largest demand for platinum (51%), followed by automotive’s 29% used in catalytic converters for the reduction of CO emissions in the exhaust gases from motor vehicles. 13% go to chemical and petroleum refining uses. In addition, 7% of platinum goes to high-tech industries, including personal computers and consumer electronics.
Because of platinum’s importance as an industrial material, its relatively low production and concentration among a few suppliers, prices can be volatile. For this reason, platinum is often considered attractive to investors.
Platinum futures are traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange under ticker symbol PL in U.S. dollars and cents in lot sizes of 50 troy ounces. Minimum price fluctuation is $0.10 per troy ounce.
Trading hours on the CME Globex electronic platform: 6:00 PM until 5:15 PM Sunday through Friday. There is a 45-minute break each day between 5:15PM (current trade date) and 6:00 PM (next trade date), New York Time. Open Outcry: 8:20 AM to 1:05 PM, New York Time. Trading terminates on the third last business day of the delivery month.
Platinum futures are delivered every year in January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November and December (all months). Delivery months’ codes are: F=Jan, G=Feb, H=Mar, J=Apr, K=May, M=June, N=July, Q=Aug, U=Sep, V=Oct, X=Nov, Z=Dec.