Except for occasional market fluctuations, rhodium bullion is the most expensive precious metal in today's economic climate. With important technological discoveries and advancements requiring the use of the platinum group metals (PGMs), rhodium prices have soared to staggering levels in the past five years. The history of rhodium, whose chemical symbol is Rh and atomic number is 45, stretches back two hundred years to the beginnings of the nineteenth-century, another exciting time of scientific achievement in several different fields.
British scientist William Hyde Wollaston (1766-1828) discovered rhodium from platinum ore about a year after discovering palladium, another platinum group metal. Wollaston wrote in his notebook on June 14, 1804 that he named the metal after its "rose-coloured residue." The Greek word "rhodon" means "rose." The announcement of the discovery was made to the Royal Society ten days later on June 24, 1804. Wollaston himself developed a palladium-gold alloy that was used in sextants and a rhodium-tin alloy that increased the durability of the tips of pen nibs. The scientist also made advancements in such burgeoning fields as electricity, optics and photography, astronomy, and mineralogy (just to name a few). The Geological Society of London established the Wollaston Medal in 1831 to honor the annual outstanding achievement in geology. Though first made of gold, the medal has been made of Wollaston's other discovery, palladium, since 1930.
Like other precious metals, rhodium bullion is usually measured in troy ounces, a measurement which is slightly heavier than a liquid ounce. Like platinum and other platinum group metals, the hard, silvery-white rhodium is resistant to corrosion and has invaluable electrical conductivity properties. It's used as a hardening agent in platinum and palladium alloys in such applications as aircraft spark plugs, laboratory crucibles, a filter for mammography systems, optical instruments, and autocatalyst applications. White gold and platinum jewelry are enhanced by the reflective white surface that rhodium plating provides, known as rhodium flashing in the jewelry business. The finish is also used for mirrors and search lights. The people at the Guinness Book of World Records have found the most imaginative use for the "rose" metal. In 1979, they presented a rhodium-plated disc to Sir Paul McCartney for his songwriting and recording achievements. They just didn't think an award made from mere silver or gold was worthy enough for the former Beatle.
A small quantity of rhodium bullion comes from Ontario's copper-nickel sulfide mining area in the Sudbury region. Though the amount is small, the cost of recovering the bullion is relatively low because so much nickel ore is processed from these mines. Traces of the bullion are usually found in deposits of platinum and palladium ore. Sixty percent of the world's supply comes from South Africa deposits. The Ural Mountains of Russia are another major source, but the political climate of that region affects rhodium prices. So does the unyielding economic law of supply and demand. South Africa production increased due to the high prices of the platinum metals group in the late 1980s. The increased supply on the market then caused declining prices in the 1990s. But prices have been increasing since the late 1990s because of supply interruptions in the Ural Mountains region. In March 2003, rhodium prices were at about $300 per troy ounce. Five years later, in March 2008, the cost per troy ounce is hovering around $9,000. Those hoping to make a fortune investing in precious ores may be too late. Only time will tell if these kinds of price increases will continue in the near future.
The phenomenal increase in the platinum group metals has had a criminal side-effect. Catalytic converters are being stolen nationwide, especially from beneath vehicles that have a high clearance such as trucks and sports utility vehicles. The catalytic converters are anti-pollution devices that cost automobile owners about a thousand dollars to replace. But the thin coating of the platinum group metals on these devices brings about $200 apiece on the scrap metal recycling market. Since it only takes a couple of minutes to remove a bolted converter from beneath a vehicle, it doesn't take a motivated thief long to come up with some serious cash. Of course, this isn't a recommended way of making money from precious metals. The apostle Paul had this to say to the Christians at Ephesus: "Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth" (Ephesians 4:28).
With the real estate market in a slump and fears of an economic recession, many investors are looking to the bullion market as a solid investment option. People who had no idea how to invest in precious metals a few years ago can now find a wealth of investing information on the internet. The buying and selling of such precious metals as gold, platinum, or rhodium bullion have been made easier as investors can make purchases with a click of the mouse. Like all transactions, though, buyers need to do enough research to know that they are buying from reputable dealers. Investors also need to remember that rhodium prices can go down as quickly as they go up. Though precious ores have an intrinsic value, a $9,000 investment made today could easily drop back to $300 in a relatively short time. As with all investment options, some risk is involved. The savvy investor does thorough research before making investment decisions.
Luster Of RutheniumMany may wonder what one means by the luster of ruthenium and must understand the importance of the metal to fully grasp the worth. Ruthenium is a rare, reflective, hard, white metal that is not commonly known, and is a byproduct resulting from the mining of platinum. On its own, the precious metal does not amount to much and does not contain much value, however is very useful when combined with other elements. When used properly the reflective metal can be of worth and in some cases proves invaluable in the furtherance of research into scientific properties and can be found in products ranging from fountain pens to jet plane engines.
Ruthenium was discovered in 1884 by a Russian scientist by the name of Karl Klaus. He is credited with the discovery of the metal and named the metal after his homeland, Estonia, which had been included as part of the Russian Empire. The Latin word for Russia is Ruthenia, hence, the name of the metal. The precious element is derived mainly from platinum deposits, and can be mined in various locations throughout North and South America and regions of South Africa. The metal can also be acquired by extraction from nuclear fuel that has already been used. The precious metal is a polyvalent, a term that means containing more than one valence. A valence in the chemistry world refers to the number of atoms that determine whether or not certain chemicals will unite. The metal is number forty-four on the periodic table of the elements and is one of the rarest metals with only about twelve thousand tons produced a year.
There are many uses for the precious element when combined with other properties. The luster of Ruthenium is really the only quality when in isolation. The metal is included in the platinum group and is more abundant than the element rhodium, but not as important. Ruthenium's main use is for the instigation of chemical reactions, the hardening of other metals, and also magnetic and optical uses in technologies and electronics. Ruthenium price is derived from the elements uses in improving other metals, for example, titanium can be made to resist corrosion when small amounts of ruthenium are added, and the precious element also increases the hardness of platinum and palladium. Ruthenium price is affected by the increasing popularity of palladium, which is also a member of the platinum group, discovered in 1803 by William Hyde Wollaston, and is becoming popular as a cheaper alternative to platinum.
The luster of ruthenium can be subdued when the metal comes into contact with oxygen, which has led to the use of the metal as a conductor for the aid of sensors for oxygen. Another one of the metals uses is in technology due to ruthenium's light absorbing properties. Because of this ability, the element is used in research and experimentations on solar energy. Ruthenium price could possibly go up resulting from such research due to the fact that the metal could prove to be an important key to lowering the cost of solar energies, which in turn will cause demand in the element to rise. The value of the metal is also believed to increase as it is often alloyed with gold in the production of jewelry, and by the fact that the precious element proves to be useful in providing wear resistance for metal contacts found in electronics. In fact, the metals main production usage goes into the manufacturing technologies relating to disk drive based recording devices, and when used in addition to iridium light energy can be produced to be used in such devices as cellular phones and MP3 players, and can be coated as a magnetic film on hard drive disks. One financial expert believes ruthenium price will extend beyond seven hundred dollars per once as demand increases for hard disk storage, as the metal is vital to the magnetic coating process.
The price of ruthenium can be affected by various factors, and is subject to change. The value has descended in recent years, yet the demand steadily grows, as the price has risen from sixty dollars an ounce to over four hundred in some cases. The metal will always be used, the main variable being the quantities used. Lack of demand can result due to a lack in major production of jewelry and purposes of investing, however, supplies of the metal grow as the demand for platinum rises. Some experts believe that ruthenium price will go down because of companies who have stockpiled the element, therefore causing a decrease in demand; however the metals many uses will preserve value for years to come.
The luster of ruthenium in its simplest state is just that, lustrous. When in isolation the metal does not amount to much and the true value of the element is only realized when combined with other elements. This is very similar to one who is without Christ, "To whom God would make known what [is] the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Colossians 1:27). One's life takes on much more meaning once they come into a personal relationship with the Lord, whereas without Him life can prove to me meaningless. The precious metal is pleasing to look at when in isolation; however the value can be increased immensely when dispersed among a wide variety of uses, from improving the quality of other metals, and for the advancement of technologies.