Top 10 facts to know about palladium

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It may not be as sexy or as popular as gold or silver, but palladium is a fascinating precious metal that deserves your attention.

A silvery-white metal, palladium is the most valuable metal out of gold, silver and platinum, with its current price hovering in the $2,191 US range per ounce. 

You may know a few things about palladium, but in this post we wanted to provide a comprehensive breakdown of all the intriguing facts about palladium so you can better understand its history, value and various applications.

In no particular order, here are the top 10 interesting details about a precious metal living under the shadow of the brighter precious metals available:

  1. Palladium is a shiny white metal in the same grouping as platinum, ruthenium, rhodium, osmium, and iridium. Most of the world’s palladium comes from Russia and South Africa.
  2. It was discovered in 1803 by the English chemist William Hyde Wollaston. He named it after the asteroid Pallas, which was itself named after the epithet of the Greek goddess Athena, acquired by her when she slew Pallas.
  3. Around 85% of palladium is used in the exhaust systems in cars, where it assists in turning toxic pollutants into less-harmful carbon dioxide and water vapor. Its uses also include electronics, dentistry and jewellery. More on the latter use below.
  4. Unearthing this rare element can be challenging. All six platinum-group elements put together make up only 0.0005 parts per million of Earth’s crust, according to U.S. Geological Survey. Most platinum-group elements are discovered in ore deposits formed by the cooling of magma, according to the USGS.
  5. Sometimes, palladium mining can face other issues. In South Africa, feverish wage negotiations with unionized miners and complaints about dangerous working conditions in recent years have resulted in strikes (and occasionally violence) that have sometimes stopped palladium production for weeks.
  6. What makes palladium so expensive? As Bloomberg writes, supply hasn’t met growing demand. “Usage is increasing as governments, especially China’s, tighten regulations to crack down on pollution from vehicles, forcing automakers to increase the amount of precious metal they use. In Europe, consumers bought fewer diesel cars, which mostly use platinum, and instead chose gasoline-powered vehicles, which use palladium, following revelations that makers of diesel cars cheated on emissions tests.”
  7. Palladium is quite biologically inactive, but the metal can spark allergic reactions in some people. Those with a nickel allergy (yes, that’s a thing) can also be at higher risk of irritation from palladium, too.
  8. When it comes to palladium’s price, its volatility is “sensitive to volatility in financial markets, in particular the conditional volatilities of S&P 500 returns and its dividend yield,” an Irish study found.
  9. Palladium is well known as a metal used in jewellery as an alternative to platinum in the alloys called “white gold”, where it is much less dense than platinum. Similar to gold, palladium can be made into a leaf as thin as 100 nm.
  10. If you have palladium jewellery or antiques, or products that are gold-filled or gold-plated, Gold.TO’s precious metals specialists can help you gain insight into the value of your items. Contact us anytime if you want to learn more about the free assessments we offer.

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