- Precious metal
A precious metal is a rare
metallic chemical elementof high economic value. Chemically, the precious metals are less reactive than most elements, have high luster, are softer or more ductile, and have higher melting points than other metals. Historically, precious metals were important as currency, but are now regarded mainly as investment and industrial commodities. Gold, silver, platinumand palladiumeach have an ISO 4217currency code.
The best-known precious metals are gold and silver. While both have industrial uses, they are better known for their uses in
art, jewelleryand coinage. Other precious metals include the platinum groupmetals: ruthenium, rhodium, palladium, osmium, iridiumand platinum, of which platinum is the most widely traded. Rheniumis a precious metal that is not part of the platinum group or one of the traditional precious metals.Fact|date=June 2008
The demand for precious metals is driven not only by their practical use, but also by their role as investments and a
store of value. Palladium, as of January 29, 2008, is valued at $388 USD per troy ounce, which is less than half the price of gold, at $995 USD/ounce. Platinum's price of $2,032 USD/ounce is more than twice that of gold. Rhodium is usually the most expensive of the precious metals, over 4.5 times more expensive than platinum, with a current price of $7,150. However, the price of rhenium has been fluctuating wildly recently and at the moment it is selling at 342 USD per ounce ($11,000 per kilogram, 32.15 Troy ounces per kilogram, July 2008). Meanwhile, ruthenium is valued at $525 USD per ounce and silver has fluctuated as well lately, trading at $16.69 USD/ounce. Silver is substantially less expensive than all of the other precious metals, presently less than 1/50 the price of gold, but is often traditionally considered a precious metal for its role in coinage and jewellery. [ [http://www.taxfreegold.co.uk/preciousmetalpricesusdollars.html Live Precious Prices in US Dollars] ]
With precious metal prices on the rise recycling precious metals has become more and more attractive.
A metal is deemed to be "precious" if it is rare. The discovery of new sources of ore or improvements in mining or refining processes may cause the value of a precious metal to diminish, as in the example of
aluminium, which was considered a precious metal before the development of the Hall-Héroult processmade it possible to extract aluminium on a large scale. The status of a "precious" metal can also be determined by high demandor market value. Precious metals in bulk form are known as "bullion", and are traded on commodity markets. Bullion metals may be cast into ingots, or minted into coins. The defining attribute of bullion is that it is valued by its mass and purity rather than by a face valueas money.
Many nations mint
bullion coins, of which the most famous is probably the gold South African Krugerrand. Although nominally issued as legal tender, these coins' face value as currency is far below that of their value as bullion. For instance, Canadamints a gold bullion coin (the Gold Maple Leaf) at a face value of $50 containing one troy ounce (31.1035 g) of gold — as of September 2007, this coin is worth about $737 as bullion. Bullion coins' minting by national governments gives them some numismatic value in addition to their bullion value, as well as certifying their purity.
The level of purity varies from issue to issue. 99.9% purity is common. The purest mass-produced bullion coins are in the Canadian Gold Maple Leaf series, which go up to 99.999% purity. Note that a 100% pure bullion is not possible, as absolute purity in extracted and refined metals can only be asymptotically approached. Many bullion coins contain a stated quantity (such as one troy ounce) of the marginally-impure
alloy. In contrast, the Krugerrandis one of many historic and modern bullion coins of 22 Kt Crown gold, with a stated content (usually one troy ounce) of "fine gold", with the other component(s) of the alloy making the coin heavier than one ounce in total. Still more bullion coins (for example: British Sovereign) state neither the purity nor the fine-gold weight on the coin, but are recognized and consistent in their composition, and many historically stated a denomination in currency (example: American Double Eagle).
One of the largest bullion coins in the world is the 10,000 dollar
Australian Gold Nuggetcoin minted in Australiawhich consists of a full kilogram of 99.9% pure gold. There have been a small number of larger bullion coins, but they are impractical to handle and not produced in mass quantities. Chinahas produced coins in very limited quantities (less than 20 pieces minted) that exceed 260 troy ounces (8 kg) of gold. Austriahas minted a coin containing 31 kg of gold (the Vienna Philharmonic Coin minted in 2004 with a face value of 100,000 euro). As a stunt to publicise the 99.999% pure one-ounce Canadian Gold Maple Leaf series, in 2007 the Royal Canadian Mintmade a 100 kg 99.999% gold coin, with a face value of $ 1 million, and now manufactures them to order, but at a substantial premium over the market value of the gold.
Gold and silver are often seen as hedges against both
inflationand economic downturn. Silver coins have become popular with collectors due to their relative affordability, and unlike most gold and platinum issues which are valued based upon the markets, silver issues are more often valued as collectables, far higher than their actual bullion value.
Precious metal status
An interesting case of a precious metal that is now common is that of
aluminium. Although aluminium is one of the most commonly occurring elements on Earth, it was initially found to be exceedingly difficult to extract from its various ores. This made the little available pure aluminium which had been discovered (or refined at great expense) more valuable than gold. Bars of aluminium were exhibited alongside the French crown jewelsat the Exposition Universelle of 1855Fact|date=September 2008, and Napoleon III was said to have reserved a set of aluminium dinner plates for his most honored guestsFact|date=September 2008. Additionally, the pyramidal top to the Washington Monumentis made of pure aluminium. At the time of the monument's construction, aluminium was as expensive as silver [cite journal | author = George J. Binczewski | title = The Point of a Monument: A History of the Aluminum Cap of the Washington Monument | journal = JOM | volume = 47 | issue = 11 | pages = 20–25 | year = 1995 | url = http://www.tms.org/pubs/journals/JOM/9511/Binczewski-9511.html] . Over time, however, the price of the metal has dropped; the invention of the Hall-Héroult processin 1886 caused the high price of aluminium to permanently collapse.
Gold as an investment
Silver as an investment
Palladium as an investment
Taxation of precious metals
Sources of current metal prices:
* [http://www.kitco.com/ Kitco Current Metal Prices]
* [http://bullion.nwtmint.com/pricing.php Northwest Territorial Mint Current Metal Prices]
* [http://ipmi.org/about/index.cfm International Precious Metals Institute]
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Look at other dictionaries:
precious metal — precious metals N VAR A precious metal is a valuable metal such as gold or silver … English dictionary
precious metal — n [U and C] a rare and valuable metal such as gold or silver … Dictionary of contemporary English
precious metal — noun count a valuable metal such as gold, silver, or PLATINUM … Usage of the words and phrases in modern English
precious metal — ► NOUN ▪ a valuable metal such as gold, silver, or platinum … English terms dictionary
precious metal — noun any of the less common and valuable metals often used to make coins or jewelry • Hypernyms: ↑valuable • Hyponyms: ↑bullion, ↑gold, ↑silver * * * noun : any of the less common and highly valuable metals (as gold, silver … Useful english dictionary
Precious Metal — Infobox Television episode| Title = Precious Metal Series= Season = 3 Episode = 18 Guests = Airdate = April 3, 2003 Production = Writer = Andrew Lipsitz and Naren Shankar Director = Deran Sarafian Season list = CSI season 3 episode list Prev =… … Wikipedia
precious metal — UK / US noun [countable] Word forms precious metal : singular precious metal plural precious metals a valuable metal such as gold, silver, or platinum … English dictionary
precious metal — valuable metal, costly metal, metal that is not combined with oxygen, anti rust metal (i.e. gold, silver, or platinum) … English contemporary dictionary
precious metal — a metal of the gold, silver, or platinum group. * * * … Universalium
precious metal — (Roget s IV) n. Syn. silver, pLatinum, pewter; see gold 2 , metal … English dictionary for students