Palladium is the most expensive of the four major precious metals: gold, silver and platinum are the others. It is rarer than platinum and is used in large quantities for catalytic converters. Despite not being the rarest metal, gold is still the most desired metal on the planet due to its durability, flexibility and convenience. Its golden shine and chemical qualities make it a valuable component in a variety of machines.
Of course, gold's reputation as a prominent and valuable metal is not unfounded. Gold has been used as a currency as a symbol of wealth, prestige and power in almost all societies, and the modern world is no exception. Few objects occupy as much space in our lives as gold, whether they are wedding rings, prizes or even money. Gold, silver and platinum get all the attention as the world's most precious metals.
But they are more valuable to the world economy than to human health. On the other hand, other metals and minerals (metals are a type of mineral) are more important to our health (see What essential metals do for us). In fact, some of them are so important that we can't live without them. Each one plays a role in hundreds of body functions.
You may only need a very small amount of a particular mineral, but consuming too much or too little can upset a delicate balance in the body, says Dr. Bruce Bistrian, head of clinical nutrition at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Metals play a key role in our daily lives. We all know gold and platinum, but do you recognize these other precious metals and can you identify their uses? Rhodium is one of the metals you'll find at the market spot price, as are gold, silver, platinum and palladium.
It is a member of the platinum group and is resistant to corrosion. This metal is used as a catalyst in the chemical industry and is used to coat optical fibers, optical mirrors and headlight reflectors. This identifiable metal occupied the throne in commodity prices for decades until it was overtaken by gold. This precious metal is used in jewelry and many industrial applications, including fuel cells, dental work, electronic components, medicines, glass and oil.
This metal is less well-known and is a member of the platinum family of precious metals. It is popular for its ability to increase hardness and strength when added as an alloy to palladium and platinum. Ruthenium is also used in the medical and chemical industries. Another member of the platinum family and the most extreme, this metal has a very high melting point and is the metal most resistant to corrosion.
Iridium is a by-product of nickel mining and is also processed from platinum ore. Although it has many uses, it is primarily used as a hardening agent in platinum alloys. Many people think that gold is the most valuable and expensive mineral in the world, but this is a common mistake because there are other minerals that are much more valuable than gold. But in jewelry, white gold is an alloy of gold and white metal, such as nickel, silver or palladium.
The large price disparity between gold and rhodium is due to the fact that gold mines are much more numerous than rhodium mines.