Modern Uses of Precious Metals
Precious metals are not only used as currency. In today’s world, metals like gold, silver, and platinum are used for anything from electronics to medical technologies. Here are some of the most common modern uses for precious metals.
The word “gold” is synonymous with status and stature, and has been throughout history. Gold’s variability as an element makes it highly valuable. Gold is frequently sought after for not only its aesthetic appeal but also its industrial value due to its unique qualities. Gold is pliable, conducts electricity, and easily merged with other metals.
The most common uses for gold in the modern day include:
- Jewelry – A majority of gold purchased by consumers is made into jewelry, and this has been the case over hundreds of years and across the world. Its durability and resistance to tarnishing makes it a durable and stylish metal.
- Electronics – Since gold is a great electricity conductor, small amounts of it can be found in a number of electronic devices, including cell phones, televisions and computers.
- Medicine – Gold is used in a wide range of medical treatments, namely its isotopes for some radiation treatments. Additionally, crowns and other orthodontic fixtures are often made in gold since it is non-allergenic.
- Space – Gold is also used on the insides of space travel vehicles to help shield occupants from high heat or radiation.
- Awards – Gold’s high industrial quality also contains aesthetic appeal. Some of the most recognizable awards are made of gold including Olympic medals and the Academy Awards.
Silver is a unique metal, but it is less rare and expensive than gold. For centuries silver has been used in both jewelry and coins; however, modern science has also discovered numerous uses for its properties and has applied it to many modern day advancements. Today, silver is commonly used for:
- Solar and nuclear energy – Silver, when turned into a paste, can be used to make solar panels. Silver aids in creating the current necessary to harness the sun’s power. Silver is also used to slow the fission rate of nuclear reactors.
- Cutlery – While a classic use for silver, cutlery is still one of silver’s most popular forms. Silver is a popular material for cutlery due to its natural corrosion resistance, ease to polish, and its ability to be alloyed with other metals.
- Photography – While digital photography has been on the rise for some time now, silver is still essential to the development of film images, including X-rays. Silver crystals, when exposed to light, record the image for development.
- Antibiotics – Silver’s non-toxicity and ability to kill bacteria through oxygen absorption makes it an efficient ingredient in antibiotic medicines. Silver is also used in hospitals to lessen the spread of harmful infections.
- Electronics – Silver is a natural thermal and electrical conductor and is therefore used in numerous electronics such as electrical switches, superconductors, batteries, televisions, etc.
Platinum is widely considered the most practical of the precious metals, and it has been used industrially since the time of the ancient Egyptians for fashioning fine items. Platinum remains a popular fine metal choice to this day, and some of platinum’s many uses include:
- Catalytic conversion – Perhaps platinum’s most common use is in the automotive sector as a key material for catalytic converters. Catalytic converters are put into the exhaust systems of automobiles to convert harmful emissions into CO2 and water.
- Computer parts – Hard disks, used within computers to store data, are partially made of platinum. Platinum works in the disks to boost the magnetic properties and therefore increase storage capacity. With the rise of the digital age, platinum is in higher demand than ever for making hard disks.
- Oil refining – Platinum’s catalytic abilities are also used on crude oil to extract gasoline.
- Jewelry – Platinum is resistant to tarnishing and its luster is unmatched. For these reasons, it’s highly desirable for engagement rings and other forms of fine jewelry.
Palladium is similar to platinum in several ways including coloration, hardness, and catalytic capabilities. Thus, palladium’s industrial uses are very similar to platinum in many respects. Those include:
- Catalytic converters – Like platinum, palladium is used as a catalytic converter in automobiles and other engines; however, palladium is cheaper.
- Electronics – For some cell phones and laptops, palladium is used in ceramic capacitors which help devices store charge.
- Medical needs – In some instances, palladium is combined with gold to create dental inlays and other orthodontic devices. Additionally, since palladium doesn’t appear to show hostility toward the human body, scientists are researching palladium isotopes for treating certain types of cancers.
- Jewelry – While similar in appearance to platinum, palladium is not quite as dense and is more affordable. Plus, palladium and platinum don’t tarnish like silver.
The first record of copper use dates to around 8000 B.C. and copper was used for tools as early as 5500 B.C. Today, copper continues to be a valuable metal in many areas of modern life. Some of copper’s modern uses include:
- Electrical – The majority of copper is used for electrical purposes. It is used in generators, motors, transformers, and wiring for a number of devices and electrical equipment.
- Construction – Copper is widely used in the construction sector since the metal is both durable and waterproof. Copper is most commonly used for roofs, plumbing, and lightning rods.
- Transportation – Copper is widely used in the construction of numerous types of transportation vehicles including trains, cars, and ships. Copper is used in the batteries of cars as well as built-in electronics.
- Household appliances – Microwaves, refrigerators, washing machines, etc. all contain copper.
While there are numerous modern uses for precious metals, classics like coinage are still popular. If you’d like to make a gold, silver, copper, or other precious metal coin your next investment, feel free to browse our online inventory.