A precious metal is defined as a rare, naturally occurring metal of high economic value.
These metals react differently than other elements, are considered beautiful by many, and are usually more ductile (easier to mold and work with) than other metals. Combined with its rarity, high demand, and high market value, these characteristics make this class of metals be considered ‘precious’.
Historically, even in recent history, precious metals (most notably gold) were important as currency. The Gold Standard did not officially end until August 15,1971 when Richard Nixon ended the convertibility of U.S. Dollars into gold during troubling times for the United States including the Vietnam War and a period of declining strength of the U.S. Dollar abroad. If you have about four minutes to spare, it would be well worth your time to watch the following YouTube clip of President Nixon as he delivers one of his most famous speeches while making some dramatic changes.
Nixon Ends Bretton Woods Internati…
Precious metals are now regarded primarily as investment and industrial commodities. The best-known and most common investment vehicles of the precious metals are the coinage metals gold and silver. While both have industrial uses, they are better known for their uses in art, jewelry and coinage. Other precious metals include the platinum group metals: ruthenium, rhodium, palladium, osmium, iridium, and platinum, of which platinum is the most widely traded.