A precious metal is a rare metallic chemical element of high, durable economic value. more...
Chemically, the precious metals are less reactive than most elements, have high luster, 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, platinum and palladium though are still internationally recognised as forms of currency under ISO 4217.
The best-known precious metals are gold and silver. While both have industrial uses, they are better known for their uses in art, jewelry, and coinage. Other precious metals include the Platinum group metals: ruthenium, rhodium, palladium, osmium, iridium, and platinum, of which platinum is the most widely traded. Plutonium and uranium could also be considered precious metals.
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 is, as of February 28 2006, valued ($284 USD per ounce) at a little over half the price of gold ($561 USD/ounce), and platinum ($1,050 USD/ounce) at about twice that of gold. Silver is substantially less expensive ($9.77 USD/ounce) than these metals, presently at 1/58 the price of gold, but is often traditionally considered a precious metal for its role in coinage and jewelry.
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