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Precious Metals: Rare Resilience
Regularly used in jewelry-craft, gold, silver, and platinum are considered precious metals for more than simple rarity. Read on to learn what defines them—and what contributes to their value.
If you’re planning to travel back to the mid-1800s—and you want to wow the rich and powerful of the day—you might want to pack a few rolls of aluminum foil. Though it’s now used to wrap sandwiches and protect our thoughts from eavesdroppers, aluminum was once highly valued and difficult to extract. When chemists finally figured out how to isolate it, the public was so entranced by its sheen that aluminum tableware and jewelry quickly became status symbols.
It was, in short, a precious metal—until a better extraction process was developed, drastically increasing its supply and reducing its value. Rarity is key to the definition of a precious metal. Today, gold and silver remain rare enough that their ancient status as tools of investment and trade still stands. In more recent centuries, they’ve been joined by platinum and palladium, along with several other metals often found deposited with them.