What is Platinum Bullion?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Platinum bullion is a piece of platinum of high purity, sold by weight rather than face value. People can purchase bullion coins, blocks, and ingots. Several governments formally mint platinum bullion, and it can also be made by third parties. People buy and sell this precious metal as an investment product, generally in the form of trade certificates rather than bullion itself because it is bulky and difficult to move in high volumes.

Businesswoman talking on a mobile phone
Businesswoman talking on a mobile phone

Platinum, gold, and silver are all heavily traded precious metals. In the case of platinum, the metal has a silvery, shiny appearance and is prized for use in jewelry and the production of various metal products. Unlike coin, where the value of the currency is determined by the face value, platinum bullion is valued by weight. The manufacturer stamps the bullion with information about the purity and weight, and while a face value statement may be part of the stamp, the coin is not usually sold at that value.

Typically, platinum bullion is decorated with ornamental devices like national seals and other works of art to make it more visually interesting. When a government mint produces the metal, it may stamp it with heraldic devices to mark it as a product of the mint. These symbols are a guarantee of purity and source, a concern for investors who want to avoid counterfeit bullion or metals from questionable sources, as these could be difficult to resell.

Investors can buy platinum bullion directly from a manufacturer or through other traders, using the going rate currently being quoted for platinum. This fluctuates regularly and traders must time their purchases with care to take advantage of the best price. Since investors in precious metals typically want to deal in very high values, they commonly buy and sell certificates to the metals, rather than the metals themselves. The issuer of the certificates maintains a stock of platinum bullion in a secure facility, backing the certificates it issues with this store of materials.

People can buy single units of platinum bullion if they lack the ability to invest on a large scale. Metals speculation on a low level can be more dangerous for investors, as they lack the ability to profit by moving large volumes of metals as the market shifts, and they may not have access to appropriate storage facilities for their metals. If platinum bullion is lost or stolen, it cannot be traced to the original owner unless it has been stamped with a serial number.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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