What Makes a Metal ‘Precious’?

What Makes a Metal ‘Precious’?

At some point in your life, you’ve likely heard the term “precious metals.” However, just because you’ve heard the term doesn’t mean that you actually know what precious metals are; it does’t mean that you understand the characteristics of precious metals.

Looking to learn? In this article, we will not only discuss what makes a metal precious, we will also answer the question, “what are the precious metals?” Let’s get into it, shall we?

Characteristics of Precious Metals

Generally speaking, precious metals are metals which carry a great deal of economic value. Typically, this economic value stems from three primary characteristics: scarcity, chemical composition, and social value.


All precious metals have one major thing in common: they’re exceedingly scarce and rare. It is very uncommon that you will stumble upon a precious metal, even when purposely attempting to mine it.

In the case of most precious metals, this creates a simple scenario of supply and demand. For example, because there is so much aluminum available on the planet, it carries very little value. On the other hand, because there is so little gold on the planet, it carries a great deal of value.

Human beings want what they can’t get. Because metals such as gold and silver are hard to get, they become seen as precious.

Chemical Composition

Typically, when a metal is considered to be precious, there is something about its chemical composition which is unique. The metal is chemically capable of doing things which other metals are not capable of doing.

A good example of this would be silver. Silver possesses more electrical conductivity than any other metal on the planet. Because of this, it’s highly sought after.

Precious metals supplier, Colonial Metals, is very familiar with the unique capabilities of precious metals. They sell precious metals to companies and organizations which are trying to get the most out of metal.

Social Value

Civilization works in ways which we can’t always entirely understand. Sometimes, objects are assigned social value for no reason other than the fact that someone wants to assign them with social value.

When an object is assigned with this social value, it eventually obtains economic value as well.

This has been the experience of many precious metals. Gold, in particular, has been assigned a great deal of social value. For centuries, societies have used gold as a form of currency, giving it economic value in the realm of trade.

What are the Precious Metals?

Now that we’ve reviewed what makes metals precious, you’re probably asking yourself, “what are the precious metals?” There are a variety of metals which are considered to be precious.

The three most popular precious metals include gold, silver, and platinum. However, these are far from the only precious metals available on this planet. Other precious metals include ruthenium, palladium, rhodium, and osmium, to name just a few.

A notable, man-made precious metal is Californium 252. With only 8 grams made since 1950, it could easily be considered the rarest metal on earth.

Have more questions about precious metals? Contact us today!

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