Glass & Platinum

In short

Several sources report from a mysterious casket found in Thebes, Egypt. Platinum have been found on objects in objects dating back to 700 BC, in particular the famous Casket of Thebes. This little box is decorated with hieroglyphs in gold, silver and an alloy of PGM.[i]

Modern platinum history began wit the discoveries of native South American people who produced artefacts of white gold-platinum alloy.

The first written account of platinum was from Julius C Scaliger in 1557. He describes it as a strange metal found in mines between Panama and Mexico and wrote that no fire or any other Spanish arts could melt it.

In 1783 French chemist Francois Chabaneaus’ discovered and patented a method of producing workable platinum. However the quality of the metal was still very inconsistent from batch to batch – unknown to him, there were impurities of, as then, undiscovered metals.

English chemist Wollaston developed commercial process for producing pure platinum in the early 19th century. In the course of his studies on platinum ores he also discovered the metals osmium, iridium, rhodium and palladium – the elements which had made Chabaneaus’ work so frustrating.

[i] “A history of Platinum” (assessed 11May2015)