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What are the Costliest Metals (& Where to Find Them)?

“Precious metals” are desirable, rare elements with high value.

Acquisitions allow investors to procure tangible assets to diversify their investment portfolios. The most traded precious metal investments include gold, silver and platinum. Several metals are part of the platinum group members (PGM’s), such as osmium, ruthenium as well as those of even greater value – iridium, palladium and rhodium.

Costliest metals

As of July 2022, these are the five most expensive metals:

  • Rhodium (Rh) – $15,250/troy ounce
  • Iridium (Ir) – $4,750/troy ounce
  • Palladium (Pd) – $2,027/troy ounce
  • Gold (Au) – $1,723.55/troy ounce
  • Platinum – $889/troy ounce

Overview of costliest precious metals

  • Rhodium is a silver/white metal PFM that’s extremely hard, resistant to corrosion and a melting point of 1,964°C. It’s used in automotive catalytic converters, jewelry and plating. Businesses mine approximately 30 metric tons of rhodium in South Africa and Russia every year.
  • Iridium is another PGM with a silver/white appearance. It is the second most dense material next to osmium and extremely rare ─ more iridium is found in meteorites than in the earth’s crust. We use it in electronics, medical equipment and to produce green hydrogen power. The melting point of this metal is much higher at 2,226°C. South Africa mines most of the metal; 16,100 pounds were mined in 2019.
  • Palladium is yet another silver/white PGM that sports the lowest density and melting temperature (1,554.9°C) within the platinum family. It’s ductile and malleable and used in jewelry, electronics, dentistry – and like many in the platinum family, auto exhaust. We mine approximately 210,000 kilograms every year in South Africa, Russia, Canada, the United States and Zimbabwe.
  • Gold is the most popular commodity among precious metal investors, especially when stock markets and currency markets post losses. Most gold is yellow in appearance, but there are variant colors, including black, ruby and purple. It is highly desirable in jewelry as well as an investment. Gold is soft, malleable and has a lower melting point at 1,064°C. We mine approximately 2,500 tons annually in South Africa, the Western United States, Canada and Russia. Interesting fact – seawater also includes trace elements of gold.
  • Platinum is silver/white in color and reflective. It is malleable, ductile, dense and one of the least reactive metals, melting at 1,768°C. We use platinum in jewelry and electrical contacts and it is the most abundant PGM. Over 180 metric tons are mined annually from South Africa, Russia, Finland, Ireland, Borneo, New Zealand, Brazil, Peru, Madagascar, Canada and the pacific northwest in the United States.

Metal cost constantly fluctuating

Like most commodities, supply and demand places a huge role on the value of precious metals. However, the unique applications of some of these materials can impact their price. These factors include:

  • Inventory
  • Production
  • Consumption
  • World economic growth

Looking towards platinum family metals offers us a real world case study; we typically use these metals for diesel catalytic converters. Following the 2015 recall of over 500,000 vehicles, Volkswagen phased out diesel engines, which negatively impacted the demand for these types of metals.

As the world switches to more electric cars, the demand for some PGMs may decrease, while others may increase as green hydrogen applications hit the mainstream.

Metal Supermarkets

Metal Supermarkets is the world’s largest small-quantity metal supplier with over 100 brick-and-mortar stores across the US, Canada, and United Kingdom. We are metal experts and have been providing quality customer service and products since 1985.

At Metal Supermarkets, we supply a wide range of metals for a variety of applications. Our stock includes: mild steel, stainless steel, aluminum, tool steel, alloy steel, brass, bronze and copper.

We stock a wide range of shapes including: bars, tubes, sheets, plates and more. And we can cut metal to your exact specifications.

Visit one of our 100+ locations across North America today.

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