May 29, 2024

Platinum To Gold Ratio Plunges – Is This A Buy Signal Or A New Metric?

Platinum is one of the rarest earth elements with the vast majority of deposits found in only one place on earth.  Annual platinum production is only 30 tonnes per year compared to approximately 2,800 tonnes for gold and 23,000 tonnes for silver.

Roughly 80% of annual platinum production comes from only three mines in South Africa.  Siberia and other geographically scattered locations provide the balance of annual platinum production.

Investment demand for platinum constitutes only 10% of annual demand .  Since 90% of platinum demand comes from jewelry and industrial users, the price of platinum can be very volatile.  During an economic downturn,car sales plunge and jewelry is a very discretionary purchase.  During the 2008 financial meltdown, platinum plunged by nearly two thirds of its value compared to a drop of only one third in the price of gold.


Platinum - courtesy

The ongoing economic turmoil in Europe has contributed to a large drop in the price of platinum.   Last year, platinum declined from $1,887 in August to $1,354 at 2011 year end, a drop of $533 per ounce.  Although platinum has recovered to $1,609, it is considerably undervalued  when viewed through the lens of the platinum to gold ratio.  A platinum to gold ratio below 1.0 is historically a signal that platinum is selling at a bargain price.  The platinum to gold ratio is currently at .95, a level not seen since 1986.


Long term ratio - courtesy


Platinum to gold ratio - courtesy

Has the long term historical significance of the platinum to gold ratio lost its relevance?  If the world plunges into a deflationary depression, platinum may wind up becoming a much greater bargain at a later date.  The more likely scenario is that a new pricing metric is not being established and that the multi-decade low in the platinum to gold ratio is a major buy signal for platinum.

The central banks of the world have made it abundantly clear that they will print and inflate their way out of the debt crisis.  Ownership of a precious metal such as platinum is one method of maintaining a store of value against depreciating currencies.

Numismatic versions of the platinum coin can be purchased by investors directly from the U.S. Mint.  The 2011 Proof Platinum Eagle has been available since May 26, 2011 with a maximum mintage of 15,000 pieces.  The current price to purchase the 2011 American Eagle one ounce platinum proof coin from the U.S. Mint is $1,892.00 with no order limit.  No sales tax is charged on the purchase and a credit card can be used to pay for the coins.

According to, the United State Mint may bring back the American Platinum Eagle bullion coins.  The U.S. Mint has not minted the bullion versions of the platinum coin since 2008.  Production of the American Platinum Eagle is not required by law, as is the case for the American gold and silver eagles.  Production of the platinum coins are at the discretion of the Secretary of the Treasury.  The 2008 and earlier bullion version of the one ounce American Platinum Eagle coins are available from coin dealers and are currently priced at around $1,860 each.

US Mint Platinum Bullion Coins a No-Show for 2010

For the second year in a row, the United States Mint did not offer platinum bullion coins for precious metals investors. Bullion products available from the US Mint during 2010 included only gold and silver coins.

The American Platinum Eagle was last available to the US Mint’s network of authorized purchasers in November 2008 when the last 800 one-half ounce coins available had been sold. Immediately following the sell out, the Mint announced the delayed launch of 2009-dated bullion coins, including the Platinum Eagles.

Since that time, Platinum Eagle bullion coins have not been available in any format. When the coins were previously available, authorized purchasers were able to buy the coins from the Mint based on the market price of platinum plus a mark up of 4%, 6%, 10%, and 15% for one ounce, one-half ounce, one-quarter ounce, and one-tenth ounce bullion coins. Of the United States Mint’s eleven authorized purchasers, five are approved to order platinum coins.

Collector versions of the American Platinum Eagle have been available for the past two years in limited quantities. The one ounce 2009 Proof Platinum Eagle went on sale December 3, 2009 and sold out of the maximum authorized mintage of 8,000 coins within a week.The coins were priced at $1,792 each.

The 2010 Proof Platinum Eagle was offered on August 12, 2010 with a maximum mintage of 10,000. Priced at $1,892 each, these coins also sold out in about a week.

Will the US Mint release 2011 Platinum Eagle bullion coins? Or will the coins fail to make an appearance for the third year in a row?