The science behind platinum
Unlike gold and silver and despite its noble properties, platinum has almost no tradition of monetary use other than in commemorative coins. Notwithstanding its comparable rarity to gold, it was not even discovered until the Spanish found some small deposits in South America in the 17th century. Initially, given platinum's color and certain other characteristics, these were thought to be silver deposits, hence platinum's name, derived from the Spanish word for silver. Even slightly less reactive than gold according to the reactivity series of elements, platinum nevertheless has the ability to catalyze the extended combustion of certain hydrocarbons, in particular those contained in unleaded gasoline and diesel fuels. For this reason, the vast majority of platinum demand is not for monetary reasons. Rather, it is driven by auto and truck fleet demand and the changing balance between unleaded and diesel powerplants. As with gold and unlike silver, platinum is generally low cost to recycle, implying that, although above ground stocks may be tight, platinum tends to have a comparably low price volatility to gold, rather than the higher, more speculative volatility of silver.