Lesson 6:

Precious Metals

Lesson 6:

Precious Metals

We all know that gold is the most famous of the precious metals, but what about the others. Examining the others in detail can help us understand why gold remains the most popular of this group.


What is a precious metal?

 Dictionary definitions give us a starting point. The Cambridge Dictionary states a precious metal is “a metal that is valuable and usually rare”. The Collins Dictionary defines it in a similar way: “a precious metal is a valuable metal such as gold or silver”.  Merriam Webster takes things a little further: “any of the less common and highly valuable metals (as gold, silver, and the platinum metals)”.


A start perhaps, but we need more to build on. So far, we can see a precious metal is valuable and rare. But why are they valuable?

– Elemental

– Rare

– Ductile

– Less Reactive

– High Lustre

These properties above must all be used in comparison to other metallic elements. So, one definition of a precious metal could be:

A precious metal is a rare, metallic, chemical element whose properties and uses give it a high economic value. Precious metals tend to be less reactive, more ductile, and have a higher lustre than non-precious metals.

Like so many definitions the above can be open to interpretation, as can confusion with the Noble metals. Both noble metals and precious metals share many members. For now, however, we will focus solely on the precious metals.

What are the precious metals?

 The below list is not definitive. There remains some debate as to what is precious or not. But for our purposes here are the precious metals:

1. Gold

2. Silver

3. Platinum

4. Palladium

5. Ruthenium

6. Rhodium

7. Iridium

8. Osmium

9. Rhenium

10. Indium



Symbol: Au

Atomic Number: 79

Uses: investment, jewellery, electrical connectors, infrared shielding, coloured glass production, leafing, dentistry, bullion

Key Production Areas: China, Australia, United States, South Africa



Symbol: Ag

Atomic Number: 47

Uses: investment, jewellery, electrical connectors, solar panels, water filtration systems, cutlery, coloured glass production. Derivative uses in catheters and medical instruments, bullion, batteries

Key Production Areas: China, Peru, Chile, Mexico



Symbol: Pt

Atomic Number: 78

Uses: investment, jewellery, electrical connectors, catalytic converters, laboratory equipment, thermometers, dentistry, bullion

Key Production Areas: Canada, Russia, South Africa


Palladium (sometimes called White Gold)

Symbol: Pd

Atomic Number: 46

Uses: investment, jewellery, electrical connectors, hydrogen fuel cells, hydrogen purification, dentistry, groundwater treatment, catalytic converters, small amount of bullion

Key Production Areas: Canada, Russia, United States, South Africa



Symbol: Ru

Atomic Number: 44

Uses: electrical contacts, catalysis, electrochemistry

Key Production Areas: Canada, Russia, South America, United States



Symbol: Rh

Atomic Number: 45

Uses: catalytic converters, jewellery, electrical contacts, alloying agent to improve the corrosion resistance of platinum and palladium, mirrors

Key Production Areas: South Africa, Russia, United States



Symbol: Ir

Atomic Number: 77

Uses: electronics, alloying agent, compasses, watches

Key Production Areas: South Africa



Symbol: Os

Atomic Number: 76

Uses: alloys used to electrical contacts, instrument pivots and fountain pen nib tipping, hardening platinum alloys

Key Production Areas: Canada, Russia, United States, South America



Symbol: Re

Atomic Number: 75

Uses: used in high temperature superalloys and catalysts used in lead-free gasoline production

Key Production Areas: Chile



Symbol: In

Atomic Number: 49

Uses: compounds used in semi-conductors, photovoltaics, LCD screens

Key Production Areas: China, South Korea, Japan, Canada


For investment purposes only Gold, Silver, Platinum and Palladium are possible, due to their relative ubiquity. The remaining are produced in such small amounts (for example Rhodium production is approximately 30 tonnes per year versus Gold which is well over 3,000 tonnes) that they are too rare to fulfil the required liquidity necessary for investors to take them seriously.

While gold is the most well-known and popular precious metal many observers believe Platinum is the most precious of precious metals. Indeed, it is almost 15x rarer than the yellow metal but still ubiquitous enough, just, to be considered as a part, albeit a small part, of an investment portfolio.

Yet gold has the perfect blend of all the most sought-after precious metal properties and is ubiquitous enough, yet rare enough to be the leading precious metal. In addition, the history and cultural affiliation to Gold so many cultures have mean that it will remain the number one precious metal for centuries to come.



Lesson 1:
Lesson 1:
Gold As An Investment
Discover the unique characteristics that differentiate Gold from other commodities and has outperformed not only broad-based indices but most individual commodities too.
Lesson 1: #Advanced (5 min read)
Lesson 2:
Lesson 2:
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Lesson 3:
Lesson 3:
News and Numbers for Gold Traders
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Lesson 4:
Lesson 4:
Future Trends: How the Gold Market Could Evolve
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Lesson 4: #Advanced (3 min read)
Lesson 5:
Lesson 5:
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Lesson 6:
Lesson 6:
Precious Metals
We all know that gold is the most famous of the precious metals, but here we're examining the others in detail can help us understand why gold remains the most popular of this group.
Lesson 6: #Advanced (3 min read)
Lesson 7:
Lesson 7:
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Lesson 8:
Lesson 8:
Gold and Fiscal Policy
There is always a lot of hoo-hah about Gold and Monetary Policy, but rarely about Gold and Fiscal Policy. However, a Government’s fiscal policy plays an important role in the price and movement of gold. This lesson explains how. 
Lesson 8: #Advanced (4 min read)
Lesson 9:
Lesson 9:
Junior Gold Miners
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Lesson 9: #Advanced (4 min read)
Lesson 10:
Lesson 10:
What is Universal Basic Income?
Like so many of these abstract economic terms Universal Basic Income (UBI) has a number of definitions and variants. This lesson will take you through these different ideas, continuing to a summary of both sides of this controversial policy. We will then look at what the implications could be in financial markets.
Lesson 10: #Advanced (4 min read)