In ancient and middle ages times, mankind believed that there were only seven metals, each of which was a conductor of one of the then known planets. They also possessed unusual properties. They continued to shine in the air and after a long stay in water, they did not respond to the effects of salts, caustic alkalis, acids and high temperatures. Using the metaphors of stability and permanence, they were called the noble metals.
Needless to say that the value of such metals was very high, and the more of such metal was owned by a person, the richer and more powerful that he was. Therefore, considering their high value, they earned a second name — precious metals.
Eventually, from the seven metals of antiquity only two; gold and silver, remained considered noble. And much later, in the 18th century, platinum was discovered and added to them. So what are the qualities of the metals which are part of this elite group?
A precious metal is a rare, naturally occurring metallic chemical element that has high economic value. The precious metal is usually determined by high demand or market value; the discovery of new sources of ore or improvements in mining or refining processes will usually cause the value of a precious metal to change. Chemically, the precious metals are less reactive than most elements. They are usually ductile and have a high lustre. Historically, precious metals were important as currency but are now regarded mainly as investment and industrial commodities. Gold, silver, platinum, and palladium, each have an ISO 4217 currency code, which is a standard code published by the International Organization for Standardization. It is a code system often used elsewhere to designate currency, country codes (alpha and numeric), and other references.
Precious metals in bulk form is known as bullion and are traded on commodity markets. Bullion metals may be cast into ingots or minted into coins. The defining attribute of bullion is that it is valued by its mass and purity rather than by a face value as money.
The best-known precious metals are the coinage metals, gold and silver. Whilst 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.
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. Historically, precious metals have commanded much higher prices than common industrial metals.
Gold, silver, platinum, palladium and rhodium are a few of the most popular precious metals that are used for similar purposes, although there are significant differences in their economic value. These metals are used most frequently as investments, merchandise and for medical and dental equipment. Since the dawn of time, researchers looked into precious metals to learn the differences between them and what makes their respective market values differ so greatly and, following their efforts, they have been recognized as valuable ever since. Today, precious metals have their place in an investor’s portfolio as they are perfect for investment purposes due to the constant demand on them. If you’re just getting started in precious metals, there are many ways to buy into precious metals like gold, silver and platinum and a host of good reasons why you should give in to the lure of the treasure hunt.
There are many measures of the purity of gold, silver and other precious metals. Gold is measured in karats or carats and can range from 9K used in more durable jewelry to 24K, pure gold which is very soft.
When checking if what you are holding is real gold, the first thing you should do is to look for the hallmark which should be found on all gold and silver. This will give you a number and a letter for gold, usually 9K, 14K or 23K and a decimal for silver – usually .625 or .925 which denotes sterling silver. In the UK silver has a hallmark which is a series of symbols denoting the year of forging, the city where it was forged and the quality of the silver. To find out the value of the gold you have you’ll need to weigh it on a unique scales that has small increments. After weighing it, look up the current price of gold or silver of the various qualities online on websites.
One important characteristics of gold that it come sin three main colors and then different shades of them; white, yellow and rose gold and there may be fluctuations in the prices between the colors.
Gold is the king of precious metals and is known as a safe haven in times of economic and political turmoil. You can buy it in bullion form or in coins. When the stock market collapses or currencies dive, the refuge for cash is gold. However we believe that silver will ultimately turn out to be the best precious metal performer. Currently gold is stealing the show as the East (China in particular) continues to consume more than total annual world gold production. However we believe that silver will surprise the markets in the future as overwhelming demand will outstrip supply in a big way in the same way that gold has already benefited.
The key factor that will drive up the price (value) of silver much higher than gold in percentage terms, will be its seeming affordability. As the price of gold heads back above $1,300 and silver to $20, an individual can buy a lot more silver than gold for their money.