- Gold 448,40
- Silver 5,38
- Palladium 216,06
- Platinum 202,77
A precious metal is termed "precious" due to its unique properties: it is impervious to substances such as water, steam, and oxygen and possesses a rare combination of durability and luster.
The most well-known and widely used precious metals include gold, silver, platinum, and palladium. Below is an overview and guide to the key precious metals within the jewelry industry.
Gold has been regarded as a valuable material for thousands of years, and today, it still holds its status as the world's most important precious metal, both in the jewelry industry and the realms of banking and investments. Apart from jewelry production, many consider it a secure investment during economic uncertainties. Gold is also valued as a crucial industrial resource; for instance, it is used as a lubricant in the aerospace industry since oils and greases evaporate in space.
Gold is a relatively rare element, historically primarily extracted from nature, often from specific mines or rivers. Mining for gold in nature is a strenuous task, so today, it is predominantly recycled through smelting. For example, jewelry is often sold to gold buyers and jewelry stores. It undergoes a process called refining, wherein it is purified and ends up as pure gold, ready to re-enter circulation.
At Aktiv Guld, we exclusively sell recycled gold, encouraging you to reintegrate your old gold into the cycle.
The price of gold is heavily influenced by the global economy, with decreasing gold prices generally signaling an improved economy.
The purity of gold is measured in karats, with pure gold, also known as fine gold, corresponding to 24 karats. However, 24 karat gold is too soft for use in jewelry, so gold is alloyed with other metals such as silver and copper, making the gold alloy harder and suitable for jewelry making.
The proportion of pure gold per piece of jewelry is measured in parts per thousand. In jewelry making, 18 karat (750‰ gold) and 14 karat (585‰) are commonly used, but variations include 8 karat (333‰) and 22 karat (916‰).
Silver, like gold, has been considered valuable for thousands of years. Since ancient times, silver has been used for jewelry, coins, silverware, mirrors, and other decorative items. The oldest archaeological discovery of silver dates back to around 3500 BCE in the Caucasus region.
Silver is a precious and heavy metal with numerous properties. It is soft, malleable, chemically resistant, and can reflect light. In addition to jewelry and silverware, silver is used for industrial purposes, as it has excellent conductivity for both electricity and heat, seen in applications such as cables and batteries. Silver also possesses antiseptic and antibacterial properties, making it useful in hospital wound treatment.
Pure silver is called "fine silver," and like gold, it is too soft for use in jewelry. Therefore, sterling silver consists of 92.5% (i.e., 925‰) pure silver and 7.5% copper. The term "sterling" comes from an English penny that bore this name and had a silver content of 925/1000 in the alloy. Silver can also be alloyed with metals other than copper.
The metals of the platinum group, also known as platinum metals or simply "PGE" (Platinum Group Elements), include the six elements platinum (Pt), palladium (Pd), rhodium (Rh), ruthenium (Ru), iridium (Ir), and osmium (Os).
Platinum was discovered back in 700 BCE in ancient Egypt and South and Central America. It was brought to Europe around the 1500s when explorers returned. The name "platinum" is Spanish for 'little silver' because platinum resembles silver, although it was less valued back then. Europeans struggled to smelt the precious metal due to its exceptionally high melting point.
However, this has changed: The unique properties of PGE make them some of the world's most valuable metals with significant industrial importance. Platinum is often used in diamond jewelry, and PGE metals are employed in catalysts in the transportation industry and electrodes in measuring equipment, among other applications. In platinum alloys combined with rhodium or iridium, the metal is also used in high-temperature elements and filaments for electric furnaces up to 1800 degrees Celsius.
Metals of the platinum group are often used for similar purposes as they share characteristics such as a high melting point, high density, and the ability to catalyze reactions — that is, increase the speed of a chemical reaction without being consumed themselves.