In here we show you top 10 most expensive metals in the world. Every type of metal possesses a distinct worth, primarily influenced by its rarity, the extraction challenges involved, and its inherent properties. Across various eras, precious metals have held significant value, serving as currency and evolving into investment instruments. Some precious metals are sought after for their aesthetic appeal, while others exhibit properties highly suitable for industrial applications. The mention of precious metals often brings to mind gold and silver, renowned for their desirability and inclusion on the list. However, there exist other metals that surpass them in value. Presented below are the ten most costly metals worldwide.
Table of Contents
- 10. Indium – $11 per ounce
- 09. Silver – $15 per ounce
- 08. Osmium – $200 per ounce
- 07. Ruthenium – $263 per ounce
- 06. Platinum – $894 per ounce
- 05. Gold – $1,285 per ounce
- 04. Rhenium – $1,290 per ounce
- 03. Palladium – $1,400 per ounce
- 02. Iridium – $1,460 per ounce
- 01. Rhodium – $2,930 per ounce
10. Indium – $11 per ounce
Indium, known as one of the most expensive metals in the world, is valued at approximately $11 per ounce. It is a chemical element with the symbol In and atomic number 49. Indium is unique in that it is the softest metal that is not classified as an alkali metal. It possesses a silvery-white appearance, resembling tin.
In terms of abundance, indium is relatively scarce in the Earth’s crust, making up only 0.21 parts per million. It is primarily obtained as a byproduct during the process of zinc mining. The majority of global primary refined indium production occurs in China, accounting for approximately half of the world’s output. Other significant producers include Belgium, Canada, Japan, Peru, and South Korea. China, in particular, holds a substantial share of the world’s indium smelting capacity, ranging from 60% to 70%.
The price of indium experiences significant fluctuations due to various factors, including supply and demand dynamics. Presently, the metal is traded at approximately $580 per kilogram, reflecting its rarity and high demand.
The most prominent application of indium is in the production of indium tin oxide (ITO), which plays a crucial role in touch screens, flat-screen televisions, and solar panels. Indium tin oxide is valued for its electrical conductivity, strong adhesion to glass, and transparency. Indium is also utilized in the creation of semiconductors such as indium nitride, phosphide, and antimonide, which find application in the manufacturing of transistors and microchips.
In terms of safety, indium is relatively non-toxic and does not pose an immediate hazard to human health or the environment in emergency situations. It has low toxicity levels when inhaled or ingested by humans. Nonetheless, proper safety measures should always be followed when handling any chemical substance.
09. Silver – $15 per ounce
Silver, one of the most valuable and widely recognized metals in the world, is currently priced at approximately $15 per ounce. With the chemical symbol Ag derived from the Latin word “argentum,” meaning “shiny” or “white,” silver holds atomic number 47 on the periodic table. It is a soft, lustrous transition metal known for its exceptional electrical conductivity, thermal conductivity, and reflectivity.
Silver holds great significance due to its diverse range of applications in various industries. It is widely used in the production of jewelry and silver tableware, where its aesthetic appeal is highly valued. Silver’s excellent reflective properties also make it an ideal material for mirrors, as it boasts the highest reflectivity of visible light among all known metals, although it does tarnish over time.
Furthermore, silver finds its place in dental alloys, solder and brazing alloys, electrical contacts, and batteries. Its remarkable electrical and thermal conductivity make it an indispensable component in various electronic and technological devices, meeting the demands of our modern, technology-driven world.
In terms of safety, silver is considered non-toxic to humans. It does not pose significant risks of causing cancer, reproductive or neurological damage, or other chronic adverse effects. Everyday contact with solid silver coins, spoons, or bowls is not known to have any detrimental effects on human health.
However, it is essential to note that while silver itself is not toxic, certain silver compounds or silver-based products may have different properties. As with any substance, it is crucial to handle and use silver and its compounds according to established safety guidelines to ensure safe and responsible usage.
08. Osmium – $200 per ounce
Osmium, recognized as one of the most expensive metals in the world, currently carries a price tag of approximately $200 per ounce. It is denoted by the chemical symbol Os and holds atomic number 76. Osmium is a hard, brittle, bluish-white transition metal that belongs to the platinum group. As the densest naturally occurring element, it possesses remarkable density properties.
In terms of abundance, osmium is exceptionally rare among stable elements. Its average concentration in the Earth’s crust is approximately 1 gram per 200 tonnes. Commercially, osmium is primarily obtained as a byproduct during the refining of nickel and certain other platinum-group metals.
Osmium finds limited applications due to its scarcity. It is primarily used to produce extremely hard alloys, which are employed in the manufacturing of fountain pen tips, instrument pivots, needles, and electrical contacts. Additionally, osmium serves as a catalyst in the chemical industry, facilitating various chemical reactions.
It is important to note that osmium exists in different forms, and osmium tetroxide is one such compound that is highly toxic. Osmium tetroxide is a severe irritant, particularly to the eyes and respiratory tract, and can cause irreversible eye damage. Direct contact with the eyes may lead to blindness. Furthermore, osmium tetroxide exhibits long-term toxicity to the liver and kidneys.
Given the hazardous nature of osmium tetroxide, proper precautions must be taken when handling this compound, and safety measures should be strictly adhered to. It is essential to follow established guidelines and protocols to ensure the safe and responsible use of osmium and its compounds.
07. Ruthenium – $263 per ounce
Ruthenium, considered one of the most expensive metals in the world, currently has a price of approximately $263 per ounce. It is represented by the chemical symbol Ru and holds atomic number 44. Ruthenium is a rare transition metal that belongs to the platinum group of elements in the periodic table. Similar to other metals in this group, ruthenium is highly resistant to chemical reactions with most substances.
Ruthenium is also among the rare metals found in the Earth’s crust. Its abundance is approximately 0.0004 parts per million, making it the sixth rarest metal in the Earth’s crust. This rarity contributes to its high value in the market.
In addition to its scarcity, ruthenium possesses properties that make it desirable for certain applications, particularly in jewelry. It is known for its strength, exceptional durability, and resistance to scratching. These qualities make it an excellent choice for providing attractive finishes to silver jewelry, adding a striking visual appeal.
However, it is important to note that all compounds of ruthenium should be treated as highly toxic and potentially carcinogenic. Contact with ruthenium compounds can lead to strong staining of the skin. Moreover, ingested ruthenium has a strong affinity for bone retention. Ruthenium oxide, specifically RuO4, is highly toxic and volatile, and precautions should be taken to avoid exposure to this substance.
Considering the potential hazards associated with ruthenium and its compounds, it is crucial to handle them with care and follow safety guidelines strictly. Responsible practices and appropriate protective measures should be implemented to ensure the safe handling and use of ruthenium.
06. Platinum – $894 per ounce
Platinum, renowned as one of the most expensive metals in the world, currently commands a price of around $894 per ounce. It is denoted by the chemical symbol Pt and holds atomic number 78. Platinum is a dense, malleable, and ductile transition metal with a highly unreactive nature. It possesses a precious, silverish-white appearance, and its name originates from the Spanish word “platina,” meaning “little silver.”
In nature, platinum is primarily found in deposits consisting of small grains, dust, or nuggets. The average purity of platinum in these deposits ranges from 50% to 75%. While small amounts of platinum can be obtained through dedicated mining efforts, it is often found alongside other metals such as palladium and gold in ores.
Platinum is highly regarded for its exceptional durability and strength, making it an ideal choice for jewelry designed to be worn on a daily basis. Its resistance to stress and ability to withstand extreme temperatures, both high and low, contribute to its long-lasting appearance. Platinum jewelry retains its beauty better than other metals, maintaining its original luster and charm over time.
Regarding health effects, the impact of platinum largely depends on the specific chemical bonds formed and the level of exposure, as well as an individual’s immune response. It is important to note that the toxicological profile of platinum is relatively low, and adverse effects due to direct exposure to platinum alone are minimal.
However, one potential concern is that platinum can enhance the toxicity of other hazardous chemicals within the human body, such as selenium. This phenomenon, known as potentiation, suggests that platinum may contribute to increased toxicity when combined with certain substances.
As with any metal or chemical, proper precautions and safety measures should be followed to ensure responsible handling and use of platinum. It is essential to consider potential interactions with other substances and adhere to established guidelines to minimize any potential risks.
05. Gold – $1,285 per ounce
Gold, considered one of the most expensive metals in the world, is currently valued at approximately $1,285 per ounce. It is denoted by the chemical symbol Au and holds atomic number 79. Gold is a bright, slightly reddish yellow metal known for its density, softness, malleability, and ductility. It belongs to the transition metal group and is classified as a group 11 element on the periodic table.
To date, around 244,000 metric tons of gold have been discovered, including historical production and current underground reserves. The majority of gold production comes from three countries: China, Australia, and South Africa. While gold is abundant enough to be used in the production of coins, it remains rare enough that not everyone has the means to produce it. Gold’s resistance to corrosion makes it a sustainable store of value, and its intrinsic appeal has attracted humans both physically and emotionally throughout history. Societies and economies have consistently placed value on gold, thus perpetuating its worth.
While gold cannot be created through ordinary chemical reactions, it is possible to produce gold from other elements through nuclear reactions. However, the process is highly expensive and currently not commercially viable for generating profit from the creation of gold. Gold itself is characterized by its atomic structure, consisting of 79 protons in each atomic nucleus.
Gold’s unique properties, combined with its historical and cultural significance, contribute to its desirability and high market value. It continues to serve as a valuable asset, an important component of jewelry, and a symbol of wealth and prestige in various societies around the world.
04. Rhenium – $1,290 per ounce
Rhenium, one of the most expensive metals in the world, currently commands a price of approximately $1,290 per ounce. It is denoted by the chemical symbol Re and holds atomic number 75. Rhenium is a silvery-gray, heavy transition metal that belongs to group 7 of the periodic table, specifically the third row.
Rhenium is considered one of the rarest elements in the Earth’s crust, with an estimated average concentration of only 1 part per billion. It does not occur freely in nature or as a compound in mineral ores. Commercially, rhenium is obtained from molybdenum roaster-flue dusts found in copper-sulfide ores. Molybdenum, which contains trace amounts of rhenium ranging from 0.002 percent to 0.2 percent, serves as the primary source for extracting rhenium.
The unique properties of rhenium make it valuable for various applications. It is commonly used in filaments for mass spectrographs, thermistors, and catalysts. Rhenium is also added as an alloying element to tungsten- and molybdenum-based alloys, enhancing their strength and performance. Additionally, rhenium wire finds application in photoflash lamps, while its good wear resistance and resistance to arc corrosion make it suitable for electrical contact materials.
Regarding the toxicity of rhenium, there is limited information available. The health effects of exposure to rhenium have not been extensively studied. However, it is known that overexposure to rhenium may lead to respiratory problems, burns, skin and eye irritation, suffocation, and dizziness. Some compounds of rhenium have been tested in laboratory conditions, demonstrating low levels of toxicity.
Given the potential health risks associated with rhenium, it is crucial to handle the metal and its compounds with care. Safety measures should be implemented to minimize exposure and protect against potential hazards. Further research and studies are needed to fully understand the health effects of rhenium and ensure safe handling practices.
03. Palladium – $1,400 per ounce
Palladium, known as one of the most expensive metals in the world, currently holds a price of approximately $1,400 per ounce. It is denoted by the chemical symbol Pd and has atomic number 46. Palladium is a rare, lustrous, and silvery-white metal that was discovered in 1803 by the English chemist William Hyde Wollaston.
This shiny and silvery metal plays a crucial role in various industries. It is the element that gives white gold its distinctive color, and it is an essential component of fuel cells and catalytic converters. Palladium’s rarity surpasses that of gold or platinum, adding to its allure and value in the market.
The demand for palladium has increased in recent years due to tightening regulations on vehicle emission standards. As regulations become stricter, the need for efficient catalytic converters in vehicles grows. Palladium is widely used in petrol vehicles’ catalytic converters, making it a sought-after metal in the automotive industry. Additionally, the growing preference for petrol vehicles over diesel vehicles, which typically use platinum in their catalytic converters, has further contributed to the rising demand for palladium.
Apart from its applications in the automotive sector, palladium finds extensive use in catalytic reactions in various industrial processes. It plays a vital role in hydrogenation processes, where unsaturated hydrocarbons are converted to saturated ones. Palladium is also utilized in the production of jewelry, dental fillings, and crowns, owing to its aesthetic appeal, durability, and biocompatibility.
The scarcity and versatile applications of palladium have positioned it as a highly valuable metal in the global market. Its importance in automotive and industrial sectors, as well as its use in jewelry and dentistry, contribute to its significant price tag. As industries continue to rely on palladium for its unique properties and functions, its value as an expensive metal is expected to persist.
02. Iridium – $1,460 per ounce
Iridium, one of the most expensive metals in the world, currently holds a price of approximately $1,460 per ounce. It is denoted by the chemical symbol Ir and has atomic number 77. Iridium is a hard, brittle, and silvery-white transition metal belonging to the platinum group of elements. In fact, it is considered the second-densest naturally occurring metal, with a density of 22.56 g/cm³, as determined by experimental X-ray crystallography.
Pure iridium is exceptionally rare in the Earth’s crust, with an estimated abundance of only about 2 parts per billion. This scarcity contributes to its high value in the market. While iridium is not as abundant as some other elements, small amounts of it can still be found in the Earth’s crust.
One of the remarkable properties of iridium is its exceptional resistance to corrosion. It is the most corrosion-resistant material known, making it highly valuable in various applications. Iridium is commonly used in special alloys and forms an alloy with osmium, known as iridosmium. This alloy is often used for pen tips and compass bearings due to its hardness and durability. Moreover, iridium has been historically used in the manufacture of the standard meter bar, forming an alloy with platinum to create a highly stable and robust material.
In terms of toxicity, iridium is generally considered to have low toxicity. However, it is important to note that iridium in powder form can be an irritant and pose a fire hazard. As with any metallic powder, proper precautions should be taken to avoid inhalation or contact with the skin. Nonetheless, iridium is not known to exhibit significant toxicity concerns when handled properly.
Given its exceptional properties, rarity, and diverse applications, iridium commands a high price in the market. Its corrosion resistance and durability make it valuable in various industries, including electronics, aviation, and scientific research. As technological advancements continue to drive demand for specialized materials, the significance and value of iridium as an expensive metal are expected to endure.
01. Rhodium – $2,930 per ounce
Rhodium, one of the most expensive metals in the world, currently commands a price of approximately $2,930 per ounce. It is denoted by the chemical symbol Rh and has atomic number 45. Rhodium is a rare and valuable transition metal, belonging to the platinum group of elements. It is characterized by its silvery-white appearance, exceptional hardness, corrosion resistance, and chemical inertness.
As a member of the platinum group, rhodium shares similar properties with its counterparts, such as platinum and palladium. It is highly reflective, does not tarnish or corrode easily, and possesses a high degree of durability. In fact, rhodium is harder than gold and is known for its exceptional hardness and resistance to wear. Due to these properties, rhodium is often used as a plating material to enhance the durability and appearance of other jewelry items.
Rhodium compounds are relatively rare and not encountered frequently in everyday life. There have been no significant reports of adverse effects on human health caused by rhodium exposure. However, it is important to note that all rhodium compounds should be considered highly toxic and potentially carcinogenic. As with any chemical substance, proper handling and precautions should be taken to avoid skin contact and ingestion.
It’s worth noting that rhodium compounds have been observed to strongly stain the skin, which highlights the importance of cautious handling. However, the likelihood of direct exposure to rhodium compounds in everyday situations is extremely low, minimizing any potential health risks.
Due to its rarity, exceptional properties, and various industrial applications, including catalysis and electronic components, rhodium has become highly sought after and commands a significant price in the market. As technology and industries continue to advance, the demand for rhodium and its value are expected to remain high.
In conclusion, the world of expensive metals features a diverse range of valuable elements, each with its unique characteristics and applications. From the lustrous and durable properties of platinum and palladium to the rare and corrosion-resistant nature of rhodium and iridium, these metals have found their place in various industries, including jewelry, electronics, catalysis, and more.
These metals not only possess intrinsic value but also serve important functions in technological advancements and industrial processes. They contribute to the development of innovative products, such as fuel cells, catalytic converters, touch screens, and electrical components. Furthermore, their scarcity and limited availability contribute to their high price in the market.
While the high cost of these metals may make them seem inaccessible to many, it is important to recognize their significance beyond their monetary value. They offer unique properties that cannot be easily replicated by other materials, making them indispensable in certain applications.
It is also crucial to handle these metals responsibly, as some compounds can pose health risks if mishandled or improperly used. Careful consideration should be given to safety measures when working with these materials to minimize any potential harm.
As technology and industry continue to advance, the demand for these expensive metals may evolve, leading to fluctuations in their prices. Additionally, ongoing research and development may uncover new applications and properties, further enhancing their value and expanding their areas of use.
Overall, the world of expensive metals showcases the beauty, rarity, and functional significance of these elements. Their unique properties and applications make them highly prized and sought after, driving their value in the global market.