The word “precious” conjures to mind something of extreme value. For some, it might be a child. For others, Precious might mean a solid gold ring. Precious metals are among some of the most valuable substances on Earth. What makes a metal “precious”? Is gold a more valuable metal than silver? How do you determine the value of any precious metals you may own?
The rarity of the metal makes it precious. They also possess desirable characteristics. Shine, finish, and durability go into these, which also makes these metals great for jewelry. Only eight metals are considered precious. Precious metals made up currency for countries in the past. Now, they’ve become important investments.
Precious metals naturally occur in nature. They typically aren’t man-made. Each metal has a low reactivity rate chemically. This gives them their durability. They do have industrial uses but are best known for their use in jewelry.
This highly reflective metal is extremely valuable due to it’s rarity in the world. It tolerates corrosive objects without warping or changing. Rhodium also has a high melting point, meaning it takes a long time for it to reach a boiling point where the metal becomes liquid. Russia, South Africa, and Canada are the largest producers in the world.
15 times more rare than gold, platinum finds uses in a wide range of areas. The dense metal can be easily formed and manipulated. Yet, it retains its durability. It resists wear and tear, which makes it an essential component to industrial manufacturing. It mixes well with other metal alloys. Being scratch resistant also adds to platinum’s value and utility.
Value: Platinum’s value also comes from its purity standards. Platinum mixed with other metals makes it more malleable. This reduces its purity and some value.
The most well-known precious metal in the world. It comes from mines primarily in China, Australia, the United States and South Africa. Gold remains a popular investment option as it hedges against inflation. Highly conductive, it resists corrosion. Many electronic devices use gold in different components. Some dentists use gold in their tools.
Value: Different metals mix with gold to make it stronger. This changes the purity of the gold. Naturally, the purer the gold, the more valuable it is. The karat of gold describes its purity:
This metal can be added to platinum to increase resistance and hardiness. It can also make palladium stronger when added as an alloy. The electronics industry uses ruthenium in plating electric contacts. The alloy’s hardiness makes it a popular choice for combining essential parts together. It resists wear far better than many metals. It is another rare metal and can rarely be found in the earth, especially combined with other elements.
Value: Ruthenium values at 265.00 USD per troy ounce according to InfoMine.
A white-like metal, Iridium is a by-product of nickel mining. It is processed from the platinum ore. Although it is part of the platinum family, it is on the extreme end. This is because it has an extremely high melting point and considered dense. In fact, it is the second-densest metal on earth. Iridium is extremely brittle, yet considered the most corrosion-resistant metal, according to Wikipedia. The metal comes from meteorites that exist in the Earth’s crust.
Value:InfoMine puts Iridium’s price at 1,460.00 USD per troy ounce.
This metal has a blue hue. It has a high melting point which makes it extremely dense. When combined with platinum, the combined element becomes incredibly hard. You can find osmium in fountain pen tip, pivots on instruments, needles, and electrical contacts. The chemical industry uses it as a catalyst for various bonds.
Value: According to Wikipedia, Osmium sells for around 1000.00 USD per troy ounce,
This white-grey metal has many properties that make it a valuable resource. Palladium is one of the few metals that exhibits stable and malleable behavior. It can resist extreme temperatures. A key feature is how it can absorb hydrogen in great amounts at room temperature. This feature makes it valuable to car manufacturers. Putting it in cars helps their emissions go down.
Value: One ounce of Palladium values at $1,083.90 according to ApMex.
Silver has been a precious, valued metal since ancient times. Pure silver has a white hue. A softer metal, it was once considered more valuable than gold. While commonly used in jewelry, silver has utility in decoration, eating utensils, and electronics. Like gold, silver must combine with another alloy to become stronger. Copper is a common choice.
Silver was considered the poor man’s gold since it was a cheaper alternative. It sees more usage in industrial businesses. This is because silver is easy to work with and highly conductive. Silver has less valuable because it is one of the most common metals in the world. Mexico, China, and Peru are the world’s leading producers of silver.
Value: Silver comes as “fine” and “sterling.” Each type has a different value. In a way, it operates the same way as gold.
800 Silver: 80% silver
925 Sterling Silver: 92.5% silver, and no more than 7.6% copper (as ordained by King Edward I in 1300).
950 Silver: 95% silver
Fine Silver: 99.9% silver; but too soft for use other than a fine coat over another metal
Go to APMEX to get the current price of silver today. Check out our silver jewelry and watches on our Elite Fine Jewelers site.
Precious Metal Uses in Jewelry
Each precious metal has its own use in jewelry. Some metals are more popular with wedding bands. Others are better suited to necklaces. You can find a variety of jewelry in each type of metal. Their value changes depending on what kind of metal is used.
Gold has many uses in jewelry. There are also various types of gold used for jewelry that create different looks. Gold comes in three colors: yellow gold, white gold, and rose gold.
Yellow gold: Pure gold has a sunshine-yellow hue. After it gets mixed silver and copper, that hue becomes more yellow in color. This is the most common color in gold jewelry. The richness of the color depends on the karat. An 18 karat gold ring has a deeper shade, while a 10 karat has a lighter shade.
White Gold: This gold has a silver hue. This comes from a mix of palladium, zinc, copper, tin, and manganese. White gold typically makes up wedding bands and wedding rings.
Rose Gold: Pink in color, this hue has grown in popularity over the years. It gets its romantic coloring from a combination of copper and gold. The more copper, the darker the shade. The darkest shade comes from 22 karat rose gold.
Goldsmiths place gold in different ways on pieces of jewelry. The settings and styles all have different names. Knowing these styles helps distinguish a casual piece from a fancier piece.
Solid Gold: a dense piece that is at least 10 karats.
Gold-Plated: a base metal coated with at least 10 karat gold. Electroplating solution coats the metal with a small amount of gold. The thin plate can come off with frequent use.
Gold-Filled: similar to gold plated jewelry. However, the gold is mechanically bonded to the base. This creates more durability.
Gold-Vermeil: (“ver-may”) has a thick layer of gold on the outside of a piece. Sterling silver makes up the base. 14 karat gold must be used at a minimum. These pieces are sturdier than gold-plated pieces.
Silver makes up a great deal of jewelry. It acts as a base for many pieces since it is a sturdy metal. The luster gives it a pleasing aesthetic.
However, silver must be mixed with other alloys before smithing into jewelry. If not, the jewelry will scratch and tarnish. Like gold, silver has uses as plating or decoration on jewelry pieces.
Sterling silver remains a popular precious metal in jewelry because of its hardiness. Silver is also an inexpensive alternative to gold.
Aside from the silver purities mentioned before, there are other types of silver used in jewelry.
Non-Tarnish Alloys: As the name suggests, these mixes resist tarnish. Argentium and Germanium are common alloys that add strength to silver.
Silver-Plated: Like gold-plated jewelry, a base metal has a small layer of silver placed on top.
Silver-Filled: Similar to silver-plated jewelry, but with a thicker layer of silver.
Nickel-Silver: It contains only an alloy of zinc and nickel. Primarily used in costume jewelry.<
For those with sensitive skin, platinum provides a great alternative for other precious metals. Platinum’s hypoallergenic qualities make it a popular choice for jewelry.
The metal remains one of the most durable metals. This makes it resistant to wear and tear. Platinum’s strength makes any details etched into the metal stand out.
The details have a high contrast against the bright precious metal. It tarnishes slowly, however, platinum grows beautiful with age.
As it ages, it develops a lustrous patina on its edge. Copper has a similar quality that turns it green as it rusts. Platinum’s patina simply gives it a rustic finish that can be buffed out if desired.
The use of precious metals in jewelry can make pieces expensive. Some consumers cannot afford these types of jewelry. Consumers also have developed a need for jewelry pieces that resist excessive wear. This has caused a rise in alternative metals, particularly within engagement rings. Some of these metals include:
Cobalt: similar to platinum, but typically half the price. Cobalt has a whitish hue. It is crack and tarnish resistant.
Titanium: lightweight yet durable. The metal appeals to people who aren’t used to wearing jewelry often. It comes in several colors including grey, black, and silver.
Stainless steel: considered the first alternative to metal. Although durable, it still retains an elegant look.
Tungsten: strong and durable because of its high melting point. Tungsten’s light grey hue can be darkened with added finishes.
What Precious Metal Fits Your Lifestyle?
You may be thinking about purchasing jewelry made with precious metals. You like the look of silver but are afraid that your lifestyle may tarnish the metal. You don’t want to ruin your new purchase by being too rough with it.
Or perhaps you want something with extra sparkle? You might be purchasing something for a loved one and want to show your affection. Which precious metal type is right for you?
You wear jewelry every day. Sometimes multiple pieces make up your outfit for the day. Your wardrobe has a vast collection of jewelry with various gemstones. The best precious metal for your lifestyle would be silver.
Since it remains an inexpensive metal, you can buy as much as you like without having to budget. Silver goes great with any precious stone. It also matches any outfit or color. Sterling silver stands up to casual wear and tear.
You work with your hands daily. Or you spend hours at the gym sweating and working out. You need a reliable piece of jewelry that will handle being knocked around.
Yet, you still want your piece to stand out. Platinum jewelry will be the best precious metal for you. It resists tarnish and cracking, yet keeps its shine. Platinum’s ability to make details pop adds flair to any jewelry piece.
You’re in a committed relationship with a wonderful partner. You want to show them just how much you love them. Nothing as simple as flowers or chocolate will do.
You want something beautiful and lasting. Nothing says love like gold jewelry. Impress your loved one with a high-karat piece. Or perhaps something sweeter like rose gold. Gold’s shine will give them a memento that will always remind them of your love.
Where Can You Sell Your Precious Metals?
You may have some jewelry made from precious metals. Or you have other Before now, you may not have thought they were valuable pieces. Now that you’ve learned the value gold, silver, and other precious metals, you want to make some kind of profit. Who buys jewelry? Who buys precious metals?
Various pawn and loan stores offer cash for precious metals. However, for every quality business, there are scammers out there. Do your research beforehand to make sure you won’t be undersold. The Better Business Bureau offers ratings for businesses in your local area.
Elite Jewelry and Loan both buys and trades precious metals for cash or a short-term loan. We also own The Gold Guy, which specializes in buying and selling gold. Our team is experienced and friendly. They will help you through the process of selling your precious metals.
We also offer short-term pawn loans for fast cash needs. Bring your precious metals and precious metal jewelry to Elite Jewelry and Loan and we’ll give you a loan based on the value of your asset. Selling or trading your precious metals can be a quick way to make money. Use that loan or cash to pay off your debts.
Or come to our upscale pawn shops to find a jewelry piece at a wholesale price!