How Useful Platinum Has Been in Human Culture
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In the current times, the only way we come to know of platinum as a metal is through our platinum debit/credit cards.
Even though most people believe all metals that aren’t as lustrous as gold are inferior to it; this is hardly the case. The naturally-occurring mines are replete with ores of rare precious metals. Platinum is one of them.
One of its notable features is its tarnish-resistant appeal and distinctive white metallic color. This makes it an indispensable resource for fashion accessories as well as in other industrial uses.
Here’s how this precious metal became a part of our culture over the years.
Early History of the Metal
Platinum was discovered by archaeologists in ancient Egypt. The famous Casket of Thebes was covered and adorned with this white metal along with gold and silver details. This is probably the earliest, historic artifact found containing the first appearance of platinum.
Next, it was found among South American natives who are known to use this metal to make adornments like necklaces and nose rings.
However, since pure metal is too soft to preserve its form, these archaeological discoveries too were made from a mix of platinum and other alloys. These metal mixtures are thought to include iridium and palladium to add strength and durability.
It was upon the landing of Spanish people in the New World that the process of discovering new metals began. Platinum was a result of one such discovery in the 16th century by the Spanish conquistadors.
Interestingly enough, in its earliest times, platinum wasn’t recognized as a precious metal by the Spanish discoverers. In fact, it was disregarded as a scrap metal because they believed it wasn’t of much value since chunks of it were found amidst gold.
This is why we lost some of the earliest reserves of platinum. It was only until sometime later that it was recognized as something valuable.
Earliest Uses of Platinum
Discovered by Antonio de Ulloa, platinum was taken back to Spain in 1746 and news of this new metal spread around. Only after it was melted down in 1751 AD was its true worth acknowledged. Soon after it was found that this metal is resistant to corrosion and pliability, it was used in making surgical instruments and decorative ornaments.
The goldsmith of Louis XVI, Marc Janety, introduced this metal in the fashion industry by using it to make buttons and chains for clothing. It also became popular as raw material for valuable cutlery and other luxuries.
20th Century Platinum Bullions
With 1980s came the production of platinum coinage. The first one-ounce platinum bullion round was made by Isle of Man. Seeing its popularity, mints started producing bullions in bulk. In 1988, Australia’s Platinum Koala and Canada’s Platinum Maple Leaf were released. These, along with the American Platinum Eagle, revived the investment industry and brought metal investments to the forefront.
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