Written by: Daniel Gleich
Precious metals are precious for a lot of different reasons. These metals are pretty, so they're nice to make jewelry out of. And they're rare: Metals like gold and silver are a lot harder to find in the ground than ones like aluminum or iron, so they're more valuable. Precious metals can also be useful. For example, because gold conducts electricity really well, it's used in electronic devices like computers and TVs. And because precious metals are valuable, people like to use them as investments, too: Lots of people buy metals like gold and silver in the hopes that they'll be able to sell them later at a higher price.
The periodic table is a graphic that groups all of the chemical elements in ways that help us understand their properties and uses. This includes the elements that are precious metals. Elements like gold, silver, and platinum are part of a big group in the middle of the periodic table called the transition metals.
Gold is one of the most precious metals in the world. It is a soft, yellowish metal that is used to make jewelry and decorative objects. Gold is also used in electronics and medicine. It can be found in areas like South America, Australia, Africa, and South East Asia. Gold is one of the softest metals in the periodic table, which makes it easy to work with and melt down. Gold is usually found in underground veins or as a deposit left behind by a river or stream. Sometimes, gold can be found in rocks or soil that has been exposed to erosion or weathering. Gold mining involves using equipment like rock drills or chemicals to extract the metal from the ground. Gold mining can be dangerous because it uses heavy machinery underground. People who work in gold mines are at risk for exposure to lead and other toxic substances.
Silver is a soft, shiny metal found in the periodic table of elements above gold. It's one of the most widely used precious metals and has been known about for thousands of years. Silver was first mined in the region of Anatolia, now modern-day Turkey, and was used in ancient Roman coins. It was also part of the economy in lots of other places because it's useful as a conductor of electricity and is also used to make mirrors. Silver is used in electronics, and it's also used in medicine and dentistry because it has antimicrobial properties; this means that it helps keep germs from growing. Silver has even been used to fight bacteria like E. coli and viruses like the flu.
Platinum is a precious metal that's soft and strong. It's relatively rare, making up only about 0.1% of Earth's crust. Platinum is usually found in South Africa, Russia, and the United States. The most common form of the metal is a white or yellowish-white metal, but it can also be found in other colors, such as pink, black, and green. Platinum is less dense than gold and silver, and it's one of the most popular precious metals used for jewelry because it does not tarnish easily over time.
Other precious metals include palladium, rhodium, and osmium. Palladium is a soft, silver-white metal that doesn't tarnish easily, and rhodium is a hard, silvery-white metal that's very shiny. Osmium is a hard, blue-gray metal that's very dense.