Noble Metals

Abstract: There are more than 90 elements that occur in appreciable amount in nature that make up the Earth’s matter. Of these 90 or more elements, there are 3 elements that are called Noble Metals, that is, silver, gold and the platinum group of metals.

In chemistry, noble metal are metals that are resistant to corrosion and oxidation in moist air. Other metals like copper and iron corrode and oxidize very quickly when exposed to the atmosphere.

Hence, noble metals tend to be highly valuable because of their various applications in metallurgy, high technology as well as making Jewelry ornaments. Moreover, these noble metals are rare, although they occur in most parts of the world, and the extraction cost is tremendously highly.

Apart from being resistant to corrosion and oxidation, other characteristics of noble metals which made them ideal for Jewelry making are the following:

  1. They are strong and enduring metals, yet they are malleable: these metals can be pressed or hammered into very thin shapes without breaking or cracking;
  • They are ductile: they can be drawn out into very thin wire;
  • They have been used as a medium of exchange for thousands of years, and today, you can still buy a gold or platinum bullion as a store for value;
  • They can take on a very high polish which makes them glamorous and beautiful.

Moreover, these noble metals have a high metallic lustre and when a small amount of alloy is added, their metallic bonds become very strong, which makes them ideal for making jewellery.

These noble metals are dense metal and it feels good to be made into jewellery because of its heft. Silver has a specific gravity of 10.49, gold is 19.32 while platinum has a specific gravity of 21.45.

Since early times silver was the only metallic element that could be fashioned into jewellery, because of its whitish lustre. However, today silver is seldom used for setting of expensive stones like diamonds or precious stones.

Silver also has its short-comings. It tarnishes easily and eventually it turns black. Hence it is essential that silver jewellery is cleaned by using chemical cleaners.

Throughout the history of mankind, gold is the only noble metal that reigns supreme. The yellow metallic lustre of gold is alluring and it tends to arouse the passion in human, love, desire, greed and lust. It is also a measure of a man’s wealth when he accumulates gold.

Gold is perhaps the most noble metal used in the making of jewellery, both in olden times as well as in modern times. Gold with a small amount of alloy to harden it, is highly corrosive proof as well as oxidation resistant.

Platinum for jewellery making has a fairly recent history and it was only in use since the 19th century.  Because of its high melting point of 1755C (3190F), it was only after the discovery of oxyhydrogen torch, that platinum came into vogue. Hence, most of the platinum engagement ring are quite recent.

The main attraction for platinum to be set in engagement rings is its non-tarnishing white, which when set with a colorless diamond will bring out the brilliance, fire and the scintillations of the solitaire diamond.

The international price of platinum as an industrial commodity is much more volatile that gold. In 2008, during the sub-prime period of uncertainty, the price of platinum dropped from $2,252 to $774 per troy oz, which was an astounding loss of nearly two thirds of its value. For the same period the price of gold dropped from $1,000 to $700, which was a loss of one third of its value.

During periods of sustained economic stability and growth, the price of platinum tends to be twice as much as gold, while during periods of economic uncertainty, the price of platinum tends to decrease due to reduced industrial demand, falling far below that of gold.

Gold prices are much more stable in slow economic times as gold is always considered a safe haven.

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