9 precious metals list by value: types, most expensive, prices

The value of a metal is directly related to its abundance. Precious ones are rarer and less available in their natural state. Common metals widely used in today’s industries can be relatively cheap compared to unique and precious ones. 

There are many precious metals in this world, with most people thinking of gold and silver as the most expensive ones. While some are widely known, others are so rare that most people never heard of them before. The four primary metals that can be considered precious are gold and silver, followed by palladium and platinum. 

Precious metals have a high economic value because they are rare and have several uses. Some can be used as currency, while others are valued for other uses. Corrosion-resistant metals are the best for jewelry and currency as they are highly durable.

In this article, you will find information about 9 precious metals listed by their value. We will talk about their types and characteristics. Still, we will also consider their prices and mention the most expensive ones. 

What are the most precious metals?

Many metals exist in this world, but only a few can be considered precious. Their value increases proportionally with their rarity, making the less common metals the most expensive ones. Let’s have a look at each of these precious metals.

1. Rhodium

Rhodium

Rhodium is extremely rare and is mostly used for its reflective properties. It is the most valuable and precious metal on our list and the most expensive. It is silver in color and has high tolerance toward corrosive objects without getting affected. 

The melting point is also high and this metal sees large production in Canada and South Africa. Not many people know about this metal, but it is well known in the automotive world. It is used in catalytic converters, which are part of the exhaust systems. 

Almost 80% of the global demand for Rhodium comes from the automotive industry with South Africa being the largest provider. Because it is so expensive, the catalytic converter is also the priciest car part of most vehicles. 

But the annual production of Rhodium is just 30 tones, which is extremely low compared to gold and silver. Its high price is also a result of its rarity, but the demand from car manufacturers is still high.

How much is 1 oz of Rhodium worth?

For a 1 oz of Rhodium, you will have to pay $14,100. It is the most expensive precious metal on our list. 

2. Iridium

Being one of the rarest metals in the Earth’s composition, Iridium only sees an annual production of three tonnes. It is very dense, and it is also the most corrosion-resistant metal on our list. It is not versatile and hard to transform into usable parts. However, it does a good job of strengthening alloys. 

Iridium is mined as a by-product of nickel, and the biggest deposits can be found across Russia and South Africa. It has a high melting point along with strong corrosion resistance. 

How much is 1 oz of Iridium worth?

Priced at $2,550 for 1 ounce, Iridium can get quite expensive due to its rarity. 

3. Palladium

Palladium

Palladium is considered to be similar to Rhodium in some ways. After diesel vehicles fell from the market and petrol alternatives were popular once again, palladium became the metal used for catalytic converters. It is rarer than platinum but not as rare as Rhodium. 

When manufacturing catalytic converters, the companies producing these parts often use palladium in large quantities. The demand for metals that form this car part is slowly decreasing with the rise of electric vehicles that do not require catalytic converters. 

The top global Palladium producer is a Russian company that extracts 86 metric tons of metal annually. Palladium is white and gray, and its value is high due to its stability and malleability under high temperatures. 

While palladium deposits are quite rare around the world, they are mostly found in South Africa and Russia. Most of the global demand for this metal is from the automotive industry intended for the production of catalytic converters. 

How much is 1 oz of Palladium worth?

For one ounce of palladium, you should expect to pay around $2,156. It is more expensive than platinum but way cheaper than Rhodium. 

4. Gold 

gold

The most popular and well-known precious metal remains gold, which is also an investment option. Because it is so malleable and durable, it is widely used across various industries. The largest producers are found in China, Australia, and the United States. Still, there are many more countries that extract their own gold.

It is used for jewelry, electronics, radiation shielding, and thermal insulation. Gold is also used in the aerospace industry as one of the most versatile commodities due to its durability and conductivity. 

When the Spanish explorers first met the native culture of the Americas, the language difference was a major inconvenience in communication. But both cultures held gold in high regard, with almost every society considering gold a symbol of wealth.

Even if hundreds of years have passed in mankind’s industry, the use of gold is still the same nowadays. It is also considered a symbol of power and luxury. Wedding rings and awards are just two of the many things that use gold in their composition. 

South Africa used to be the dominant Gold producer until the 1970s, but the national production decreased since then. Back then, this country produced 32 million ounces of gold, representing two-thirds of the world’s gold production. 

How much is 1 oz of Gold worth?

Today you will find 1 ounce of gold priced at $1,664. Because it is a widely traded commodity that is also considered a form of investment, the price of gold can vary significantly. 

5. Platinum

Another metal known to be dense and resistant to corrosion is platinum, which is well known globally. This precious metal became popular due to its malleability and high versatility. Platinum is also used in catalytic converters for diesel vehicles, as 45% of the annual production goes to the automotive industry. 

However, palladium performs better in petrol vehicles, and it remains the top choice of car manufacturers. Traditionally, platinum is traded at a higher price than gold due to its rarity. Some people also associate platinum as being more precious and valuable than gold. 

Around the world, Platinum deposits are scarce and hard to find. South Africa holds the largest concentrated Platinum deposit in the world, from where it supplies the world with three-quarters of the global demand. 

How much is 1 oz of platinum worth?

One ounce of platinum is worth $855. This precious metal’s price is higher than gold, but it cannot compare to Rhodium. Although it is similar to palladium in some ways, this metal is significantly cheaper. 

6. Ruthenium

Ruthenium

Another precious metal that features a silver color is Ruthenium. It is often added as an alloy to Platinum and Palladium to increase their resistance. The field of electronics benefits the most from this precious metal, also used for plating electric contacts.

It is mostly used to plate other metals, where adding 0.1% Ruthenium to Titanium can improve its corrosion resistance by 100 times. If you have a habit of chewing your pen, you should drop it since Ruthenium is also used in manufacturing pens. 

How much is 1 oz of Ruthenium worth?

While it is a rare metal, you can expect to pay up to $271 for one ounce of Ruthenium. 

7. Osmium

Osmium got its name from the Greek word ”some,” which translates into smell. The ancient greeks allocated this specific name to Osmium since it produces an ashy and smoky smell. Nowadays, it is considered one of the most expensive metals since it is the least abundant in the Earth’s crust.

While the smell is not a strong point of this metal, its exceptional durability makes it a good choice for companies that manufacture electrical components. When used in alloys, Osmium increases in versatility and has many uses.

How much is 1 oz of Osmium worth?

Although it is not a common metal, Osmium has a price of $100 for 1 ounce. The demand is not as high as for other metals.

8. Indium

While some precious metals are hard to work with, Indium is soft and malleable. It can be scratched with a fingernail and easily bent into any shape. However, finding Indium in nature is quite hard, and it is always found as a trace element in zinc and lead.

It also has a low melting point for metal, just 313.9 degrees Fahrenheit. If exposed to higher temperatures, Indium can burn with a violet flame. It is where its name is derived from, as the indigo light is one of its features. 

How much is 1 oz of Indium worth?

Indium is the least expensive precious metal on our list, selling at just $29 for 1 ounce. 

9. Silver

silver

Silver has the best thermal and electrical conductivity out of all the precious metals presented in this article. It makes it very versatile, with many industries using this metal on a consistent basis. From jewelry to coins, silver is also used in manufacturing batteries and electronics.

Medicine also uses this metal, especially in dentistry. Nowadays, silver is mostly extracted from Chile, Mexico, and China. They are the biggest producers worldwide and responsible for most of the global production. 

There are many commercial uses for Silver alloys. Sterling silver is used for silverware but also in photography or dental compounds. The companies that are manufacturing printed circuits and batteries are among the biggest demanders for this precious metal.

Silver is known for being reflective when it is freshly deposited, but it quickly loses this feature as it tarnishes. While it doesn’t hold the same prestige as Gold, Silver is also considered to be one of the noble metals. It is less malleable than gold, but many accessories are created from this metal. 

How much is 1 oz of Silver worth?

You can expect to pay $19 for 1 oz of silver. Although it is still widely used in the jewelry industry, it is cheaper than gold. 

What is the rarest metal in the world?

The rarest metal in the world is considered to be Francium. Still, it has no practical use because it is an unstable element that decays after 22 minutes. 

When referring to the rarest stable metal on Earth, it is worth mentioning Tantalum. It is commonly used in manufacturing capacitors for electronics such as mobile phones and computers. 

The medical field also uses Tantalum when creating surgical equipment and artificial joints. Even though it is the rarest metal in the world, Tantalum is corrosion resistant and can easily conduct heat and electricity. 

FAQ

How much is 1 oz of silver worth?

Currently, one ounce of silver sells for $19. Some experts believe the sustained higher inflation levels throughout recent years could create optimal conditions for silver to hit the $100 mark for one ounce. However, we cannot know the future price of such a highly traded commodity. 

What is the most expensive metal in the world?

The most expensive metal in the world is Californium. However, its exorbitant price tag involves serious risks as it is a highly radioactive material that is also extremely dangerous. That is why Californium is mainly used in generating nuclear power. 

The fame of Californium is mostly based on this material, the world’s most expensive metal. In reality, it has very few uses in the medical industry and is not available for personal use. Because of its rarity and production cost, the price tag becomes justified. 

It is an artificially manufactured metal, and only one ounce is made every year. It is done in special laboratories available only in Russia and the United States. One single ounce of Californium can cost up to 756 million dollars, making it the most expensive metal in the world. 

Is copper a precious metal?

When we talk about precious metals, we often think about Gold and Silver. It is because they are the most popular ones, but it doesn’t mean they are also the most expensive metals. The price of a metal is directly proportional to its rarity.

As copper is becoming more scarce, the price of this metal is constantly increasing. One decade ago, the top 15 Copper producers worldwide saw a significant decrease in their production over the next years. 


But this metal is still in high demand, especially in the automotive industry. Electric vehicles are on the rise, requiring three times more Copper wires than cars with an internal combustion engine.