The reason a metal is considered precious is a combination of Geology, Chemistry and Economics.
Firstly, precious metals are relatively rare – rare things are more valuable than things that are in abundance. It is thought that 5% of the earth’s crust is made of iron, so it is not considered to be rare, whereas if you could gather every piece of Gold ever mined throughout human history, it is thought that it would take up just over 3 Olympic size swimming pools!
Precious metals such as Gold and Platinum are chemically inert, meaning they do not react with other elements. Being inert, they do not tarnish or decay. This is an important factor for an element if it is to be used as a currency, as it will not gain or lose weight.
They are hard metals, so when they are used in jewellery, they are not easily damaged, but they are also malleable and can be formed into different shapes – again useful for jewellery creation. As well as their use in making beautiful jewellery, many precious metals are used in Industry for many of the same reasons -hard wearing, inert and malleable.
The attribute of Gold that means it does not tarnish is the reason it has always made it desirable as a currency for thousands of years.
Precious metals are traded on the worlds stock markets, and the amount people are prepared to pay for it varies day to day.
So the economic reason is – the market says they are precious!
Historically Platinum has been considered more valuable than Gold – Just think of how this is reflected in everyday life whereby if someone sells enough records (or should we say downloads nowadays), they achieve a Gold album, but is they sell even more – “it has gone Platinum” OR you can pay to get a Gold credit card from some banks, and if you pay some more, you can get a Platinum credit card with even more perks.
Currently, however, the price of gold is significantly higher than the price of Platinum – So if you are weighing up whether to buy a White gold, or a Platinum ring, now may be the time to go for Platinum.
Some other interesting facts about precious metals:-
• Aluminium was once considered to be a precious metal and cost more than gold. This changed once mining and extraction techniques changed, and the abundance in the earth’s crust could be exploited.
• Platinum is much rarer than Gold – If we say that all the Gold in the world would fill just over 3 swimming pools, whereas it is estimated that all the Platinum in the world would fill a large living room.
• Gold has been mined and treasured for thousands of years, whereas Platinum was only discovered in the 1800’s