The 3 Most Valuable Metals in Jewelry: Is Gold the Most Valuable Metal?

Jewelry of every merit is laden with some of the most valuable metals on earth. So, what is the most valuable precious metal in jewelry? If gold or silver comes to mind, think again.

Learn everything you need to know about the most valuable metals in jewelry and what makes them valuable. Find out where gold ranks on the scale. And, discover how to find out if your jewelry contains precious metals. 

The most valuable metals on earth are thus, in part, due to their natural scarcity. The categorizations of a valuable or precious metal are also based on the attractive features and practical usage qualities inherent. From a chemical standpoint, precious metals are less reactive than noble metals, like copper or titanium. 

Most Valuable Metals in Jewelry: The Top List of Valuable Metals

Industrial usage, scarcity, and cost of procurement drive the worldwide demand for metals and, hence, the price of metals on the open market. So the worth of many precious metals fluctuates based on the industry sectors' needs at any one time. One of the most prominent examples is the usage of rhodium in catalytic converts for the automotive industry. 

In addition to their economic and industrial uses, gold and silver, platinum, and other precious metals are popular for jewelry and art. Precious metals, such as gold and silver, are well known for their use in coinage across the world. And, the third-most common precious metal is that contained within the platinum group – which, includes several individual types of metal.

Unknown to most, platinum is an abbreviation on the periodic table which encompasses an entire grouping of precious noble metals – the most widely recognized of which being platinum. And, likewise, the description of jewelry almost universally homogenizes the platinum group as, simply, platinum. 

This list of the top precious metals in jewelry, however, identifies each of the most valuable metals in the platinum group, individually. 

1. Rhodium: Top Most Valuable Metal

Rhodium is the most valuable metal and exists within the platinum group of metals. It is used in jewelry for a final finish on white gold jewelry. It occurs in the very same ore in which gold and silver exist – only, in smaller quantities. 

Unlike other precious metals, rhodium is essential in the design of catalytic converters, which are essential for automotive exhaust systems. But, in jewelry, white gold is an alloy of gold and white metal, such as nickel, silver, or palladium. Rhodium is employed in an electroplating process to make the alloy take on a more white color.   

Every year, the earth produces roughly 30 tons of rhodium metal. The vast majority of 80% of rhodium comes from South Africa. Comparatively, worldwide annual gold mining produces roughly 3,000 tons. In addition to the natural rarity of rhodium, the value surged in 2015, surrounding the automotive emissions scandal with Volkswagen.

2. Palladium: 2nd Most Valuable Metal

Palladium is the second most valuable of the precious metals, and also exists within the platinum group. It is an alternative precious metal, used for several purposes in jewelry, one of which being to create a white gold alloy. 

Like rhodium, palladium is used in catalytic converters for automotive exhaust filtration systems. But, unlike rhodium, palladium is only used in diesel vehicles. Based on industrial usage, mainly in the automotive industry, the value of gold and platinum have to flip-flopped over the years. 

Palladium is more rare than platinum and is used more widely in industrial applications. And, with the stringencies around vehicle emission standards tightening, the value of palladium continues to rise. Like others in the platinum group, you won’t find palladium on the description of jewelry in most jewelry stores.

3. Gold: 3rd Most Valuable Metal

Gold – the one you thought was the most valuable. Gold is currently the third-most valuable metal used in jewelry. It is the first on the list, however, to have comparable uses in industrial and artistic mediums. 

Gold, not only holds intrinsic value for its visually striking qualities but also is widely utilized in electronics and aerospace. If you had all of the gold ever discovered in the world, it would only fill up an Olympic size swimming pool.  

Most of the gold that is poured into jewelry is heavily recycled. Rare metals, like Rhodium and Gold, are so scarce that humans reuse and recycle precious metals and diamonds – constantly. Lest you suffer under the false assumption that paper and plastic was the beginning of the recycling and re-use movement – the precious metals and jewelry industry was first.

Gold is rare and desirable enough to be, arguably the most widely used metal across jewelry and industrial uses. The real question is whether or not your jewelry contains one of the most valuable metals in the platinum group. If you want to find out, contact a jeweler for a free remote consultation