A Brief Guide To Precious Metals
Precious metals have been significant in human societies for thousands of years. They also have an enduring importance in the present day—bolstered by their many uses in electronics. Here is a guide to the four major precious metals.
Gold is undoubtably the most recognizable of the precious metals. It is one of the densest of all metals and is relatively soft: making it perfect for the construction of jewelry. To this end, it has been used as a decorative element for thousands of years. Because of its beauty and rarity, gold has been a standard for monetary value for millennia. Although most nations do not back up their currency with gold reserves today, many private investors still hoard the shining yellow metal in order to keep their finances stable. Gold has a relatively low melting point, meaning that it can be easily cast by companies such as cdocast.com.
Gold is not just useful for its value and beauty—it is an excellent conductor of both heat and electricity. This has led to its use as a conductive coating in sensitive electronic circuitry. Modern solid-state electronics rely upon the transfer of very low voltages, which gold is perfectly capable of conducting due to its resistance to corrosion.
Silver is the least valuable of the precious metals, but it is one of the most well utilized in jewelry, electronics, furniture making, and a whole host of other fields. Ever since the ancient Mesopotamians figured out how to extract silver from lead several millennia ago, this metal has been in high demand.
Silver, interestingly, has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. Positively charged silver ions prevent microbial cells from reproducing and taking on energy. This has led to the use of silver in the creation of sterile objects such as surgical equipment. Much like gold, silver is both soft and dense—making it easy to work with. However, silver is prone to tarnishing when exposed to sulfur in the air.
Platinum closely resembles silver in appearance, and was first used in jewelry by the Mayans—a Central American civilization. Unlike silver, platinum is extremely resistant to tarnishing. Although platinum is still used for jewelry, its main use today is in the production of catalytic converters in cars. Around 50 percent of all platinum is used in these converters, which help to filter out dangerous particles form vehicle exhausts. Platinum is also used in the creation of drugs that help to fight cancer. Most commercially used platinum originates in a few deposits in South Africa.
Palladium, much like platinum, is used in the creation of catalytic converters within vehicle exhausts. It is a silvery, dense metal that is found in relatively small quantities in several mining complexes around the world. Palladium’s scarcity has led to it becoming a valuable investment metal. Palladium regularly absorbs hydrogen, which makes it incredibly useful in hydrogen fuel cell production. It is likely that the price of palladium will rise due to the increased interest in hydrogen cell technology.