Precious Metals Every Alternative Investor Should Know About

Precious Metals Every Alternative Investor Should Know About

Precious Metals (PMs) are physical commodities with long-term value as investments and stores of wealth for private investors, governments and central banks alike. PMs include gold, silver and platinum.

Rhodium, palladium, ruthenium and iridium are also highly sought-after precious metals, known for their rareness, high reflectivity and melting point. Rhodium stands out among them due to being highly reflective with an extremely dense composition characterized by high melting point. But all of these metals have the potential to be valuable to investors, so let’s find out why.


Gold is one of the world’s most prized metals. For millennia it has been used as ornaments and jewelry pieces in many cultures. Today over 80% of newly mined and recycled gold goes toward this purpose. Due to its beauty and durability it makes gold an excellent material choice for rings, bracelets and necklaces. Additionally it is highly valued as an investment option.

Gold’s malleability, ductility and corrosion-resistance makes it an ideal material for electronics industry applications like coating contacts and terminals on printed circuit boards and semiconductor systems. As it conducts electricity well and can tolerate high temperatures without becoming overheated, cell phones frequently use a thin coating of gold to reduce electromagnetic interference and ensure reliable functioning.


Silver is one of the few precious metals besides gold that exists in its pure state. Pure silver is soft, white and lustrous with one of the highest electrical conductivities among elements. Its germicidal properties have proven effective against many different strains of bacteria, viruses and fungus.

Silver has become an indispensable component in various fields beyond currency and silverware, including dentistry, solder and brazing alloys, photographic film batteries and batteries used in medical treatments, antimicrobial applications as well as air conditioning/water filtration/air conditioning/water purification applications, solar cells/touch screens production.

According to The Silver Institute, demand for industrial silver has skyrocketed over the past decade as traditional industries have faded and new technologies emerged – particularly photovoltaic (solar) energy, agribusiness and RFID chips for tracking parcels worldwide.

Silver can even help protect infants against conjunctivitis when given in eye drops during their first year, and is frequently found in high-capacity zinc batteries of modern cars. Silver’s antimicrobial properties have proven successful when applied topically as wound dressings or coatings on temporary and permanent medical devices.

Its positively charged ions may interact with oxygen receptors on bacteria to disrupt metabolism and help decrease infections. Its antibacterial activity has even been successfully utilized against cancer and AIDS infections.


Platinum is a soft silvery-white metal with very high density (21.5 g/cc). It is malleable but quite ductile, boasting a Mohs hardness of 4 to 4.5 (gold is 9). Like gold and other noble metals, platinum remains unaffected by oxygen and water but does react with certain types of acid such as nitric acid or hot concentrated phosphoric or sulphuric acids. Additionally it remains immune from most oxidizing agents and does not tarnish in air.

At over 40% of demand, platinum accounts for more than 40% of all demand, accounting for most use as jewelry alloy. Other applications of the metal include investing like you can with other metals, like gold ( electrical contacts, spark plugs, and laboratory equipment and dentistry apparatus as well as its chemical inertness. This property is what makes it suitable for electronic medical devices like pacemakers, aural and retinal implants as well as catheters.

One of its most intriguing properties is its use as a catalyst, with approximately half of annual production going into this form of use. It excels at catalyzing hydrogen-oxygen reactions in fuel cells used by electric vehicles. Furthermore, it serves as an exhaust emission control device in automobiles where it facilitates the oxidation of deadly carbon monoxide and hydrocarbon emissions into more harmless compounds that help lower emissions of nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide.


Palladium is less resistant to corrosion than platinum, yet still tarnishes easily under certain circumstances. At ambient temperatures it remains inert to HF, HClO4, and H3PO4, but can react with acids and alkalis. With nitric acid it forms palladium (II) nitrate which then dissipates slowly into Pd (NO3)2, while it dissolves slowly in concentrated sulfuric acid solutions.

Catalytic converters for automobiles have become an invaluable component of modern life, turning dangerous emissions from fossil fuel combustion into water and carbon dioxide that are far less detrimental to both human health and animal life. Thanks to stringent emissions regulations and increased demand for newer vehicles, their need has only become greater over time.

Other uses for palladium include jewelry, dental fillings and electrical contacts. The metallurgical industry also produces palladium as a byproduct of refining nickel and copper. Its price has skyrocketed over recent years as its scarcity increases exponentially. London police have even reported an upsurge in stolen catalytic converters due to the metal’s incredible value.


Iridium is an extremely rare element and one of the most corrosion resistant metals. Its hard surface allows it to be found in alloys with platinum and osmium for use at very high temperatures. Additionally it’s found in crucibles designed for such temperatures as well as being used in compass bearings as well as tipping mechanisms in some pen and pencils.

According to this site, iridium was first identified by English chemist Smithson Tennant in 1803 along with osmium. He discovered it while inspecting the dark residue left after treating crude platinum with aqua regia (a mixture of nitric and hydrochloric acids). Tenant gave this newly found element its name “Iridium,” in honor of Iris, goddess of rainbows. Because its salts produce such vibrant hues.

Today, iridium is used in small amounts in platinum-iridium alloys to manufacture items that must resist corrosion and extreme temperatures, such as spark plugs and rocket engine parts. It serves as an essential component in thermal motors used on unmanned spacecraft, which must endure high levels of radiation exposure.

Iridium exists as two stable isotopes: 191Ir and 193Ir. Iridium is also an important radioisotope with half-lives of about 74 days that is commonly used for X-ray photography of metal castings and cancer treatments as well as specific chemical reactions. This element has the potential to become nuclear weapons due to its relatively short half-life isotope 193Ir having relatively easy separation from more toxic elements.

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