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Precious Metals: Beyond the Big Four

At Manhattan Gold & Silver, we like to think there are only four precious metals that make the world go round: gold, silver, platinum, and palladium. After all, those are the only ones that we accept for refining. However, these are not the only precious metals in the world.

Precious metals may come in different colors and densities, but they do share a lot of properties. Compared to other metals, precious metals usually have higher melting points, are soft and malleable, and are less reactive (in fact, gold is completely inert to all body chemistry). When we think of precious metals, we think about ones that are rare and have high demand and/or market value. Yet, there are other precious metals that just haven’t reached the popularity of gold, silver, platinum, and palladium:

Osmium: In another post, we touched on how precious metals often have amazing physical properties. Well, osmium is no exception: it’s the densest natural element on earth. Twice as dense as lead, the blue-gray colored osmium can be found alloyed into industrial applications where exceptional density and hardness are required. Like the more popular precious metals, it is very rare (in fact, the rarest stable element mined from the earth’s crust) and quite valuable – able to fetch around $400 or so per troy ounce.

Ruthenium: This metal is closely related to platinum and is often found with platinum deposits, making it almost as rare. Unlike platinum, however, it is not worth very much – only about $120 per troy ounce. You might say ruthenium plays well with its precious metal brethren because its most common use is to enhance the properties of other precious metals. Ruthenium can harden platinum and palladium to make wear-resistant components. Similarly, ruthenium can be added to gold jewelry to increase its durability.

Look forward to a future blog post where we’ll discuss two more precious metals, and another one which used to be precious, but is now one of the most common natural elements the world over!

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