A precious metal is a rare metallic chemical element of high economic value. Chemically, precious metals are less reactive that most elements. They have high luster and have higher melting points than other metals. Historically, precious metals were important as currency, but are now regarded mainly as investment and industrial commodities. Gold, silver, platinum and palladium have an ISO 41217 currency code. The best known precious metals are 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. Precious metals in bulk form are known as bullion and are traded in commodity markets.
Bullion metals can be casted in ingots our minted into coins. The defining attribute of bullion is that it is valued by its mass and purity than a face value as money. Many nations mint bullion coins, of which the most famous is probably the gold South African Krugerrand. Although nominally issued as a legal tender these coins’ face value as currency is far below that of their value as bullion. For instance, the United States mints a gold bullion coin known as the Gold Eagle at a face value of $50.00 containing one troy ounce of gold. Investing in precious metals can be done either by purchasing the physical asset, or by purchasing futures contract of a particular metal. Another way to gain investment exposure to precious metals is to purchase shares in publicly traded companies that deal in the exploration and production of precious metals such as a gold mining company.