Why platinum prints are valuable

Platinum prints are sooooo expensive. How come?

Supply and demand?
         Celebrity endorsement?

How about plain old scarcity?

Platinum is valuable because it's rare and useful. You can't mess with it on an elemental basis without destroying its unique properties.

Car manufacturers love platinum for catalytic converters. Jewelers prize it for its color and remarkable durability.

But it's really how photographers use platinum that matters here.

Rarer than gold

Platinum is thirty times rarer than gold* and normally trades at a premium to gold on the global commodity markets.


USD March 11, 2014
Platinum $1,468.00
Gold $1,349.20


If you're wondering why developers don't use gold solutions for photographic printing, Mike Ware*** wrote about his efforts to produce just such a method and how it rendered unpredictable results.

Mr. Ware also talked about how popular taste dictated the toning of black and white prints in the 1900's. "True black and white, in the form of the platinotype, was so contrary to popular taste when first introduced that William Willis had to work hard to modify his process to yield an acceptable brown..."

Superior density and purity compared to gold

In addition to being rarer than gold, platinum is also denser and heavier by volume. In jewelry, it's also purer at a minimum of 85% platinum (remaining metals are iridium, ruthenium or cobalt) where 18kt gold contains only 75% pure gold (the remainder is copper).

No oxidation

Platinum doesn't oxidize so the bonded metal ions embedded in the paper can't migrate, corrode or turn in any way no matter how much time goes by.

*Source: Michael Matthews

**Source: Kitco

***Source: Mike Ware

How silver prints differ from platinum prints...

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Copyright © 2018 Koren Reyes. A Westerly, RI and NYC portrait photographer.
Beautiful, classic portraiture of families, but especially women, children and dogs.
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