The Precedents for Investing in Precious Metals

Do you want to keep up with the trends in the financial world?  Maybe you like to keep up to date with economics but are feeling a little lost right now.  That’s totally normal after experiencing something like we have in the past few years.

However, there is no time like the present to start improving our own fortunes.  Trying some alternative investment styles for something like an individual retirement arrangement can help protect you against future struggles.  One of the most popular ways to do this today is to invest in the precious metals market.

This is nothing new, of course.  Keep reading for more information on the past of these metals and why they’re still such a sound asset to have around, be it in physical form or otherwise.

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Silver and its Uses

If you’re unfamiliar, this element is number forty-seven on the periodic table.  It’s white gray in appearance.  While it is rather unassuming, it is in fact quite valuable and used for many purposes today.

Let’s go back in time a little, though.  Some of the first coins ever created were made of something called electrum, which is a combination of silver and gold.  You can learn more about there here:

After some of the other civilizations that fell in the area, Rome took up the mantle of using it as currency.  As we progressed into Medieval history, it became an important way for the Europeans to trade in Asia, particularly in China since it was scarce in that region of the world.  Without it, the amount of silk that came into Europe may have been a lot less.

Some common colloquial phrases that we know, such as “born with a silver spoon in your mouth,” came from the use of the metal in spoons.  Many people believed that if you fed a baby with only silverware made of it, they would be healthier.  While it was just a folktale, it still influences our lexicon today.

Now, in the modern day, it is commonly used in electronics.  This is because it conducts electricity very well.  So, most of our phones, computers, and laptops contain it.  Because it’s a slippery metal, it’s used in things like coating airplanes to help keep them in the air.

Platinum in History and Today

There is not quite as much coverage on platinum, partially because it is so rare.  It’s silver and white sheen makes it beautiful for use in jewelry, as you can see above.  It was only discovered by Europeans back in the sixteenth century.

Even then, it was not fashioned into jewelry in the continent until the nineteenth century.  In fact, when the Conquistadors explored South America and found the metal, they didn’t realize its value and often tossed it aside.  They called it “little silver” and moved on.

However, as we know today, that was a big mistake.  It is one of the most durable metals out there.  While the Egyptians made jewelry with it, there are not many other civilizations that had until closer to modernity.

Today, it is still a part of jewelry making.  However, it is more commonly used in the engines of automobiles.  This is because it serves as a catalytic converter for them.  You see, platinum is good at filtering any harmful emissions.  If you are interested in it, you might check out something like Sprott USA for locating methods of investment. 

I will make note of palladium here, as it is quite like platinum in uses.  Very rarely is it used to hold gemstones or in rings or other accessories.  Rather, it is almost entirely utilized in the vehicle manufacturing industry.

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The Craze for Gold, Today and Then

Of course, I saved the best for last.  There’s a reason that gold has been so popular throughout the years.  Think about it – the Spaniards and the Portuguese started to explore the world to find more of it, to start with.

This is after centuries of seeing it used by other cultures as a show of power and good fortunes.  Many monarchs in Europe also desired that demonstration of status.  In the French Courts, it gained a lot of popularity and inspired the Gilded Age and its fashion.

The California Gold Rush, of course, is another way the feverish desire for this metal manifested.  Thousands of people rushed to the area, and it inspired the United States to officialize its status as one of the states.  While not many people got rich from it, a lot of the metal was collected during this period.

Today, it’s still used in jewelry like rings or bracelets.  A lot of our diamonds are set in it.  It’s malleable but firm, making it easy to shape.  It is also a part of dentistry, since many fillings or crowns are made of it and covered in porcelain to mimic the appearance of natural teeth.

Again, small portions are also in electronics.  Usually, it is less than the amounts of silver, but it is still present.  This is because it is good at conducting electricity and can help things load faster. 

Obviously, it was used in coins all throughout history, and still is today.  Many are just plated nowadays and not pure gold.  Therefore, the IRS has some rules about what coins you can store in a gold IRA.

Final Thoughts?  

As I’ve explained throughout this article, precious metals have an impressive resume as far as value goes.  Things like platinum and palladium are quite rare, so while you usually cannot buy bullion of them, silver and gold are good for physical purchases.  

Stocks or ETFs in the market are another option for potential investors.  They are ways to dip your toes into the commodities and precious metals without the hassle of direct purchasing.  There are risks associated with both options, so I would recommend consulting with a professional before you make any big decisions.  No matter the route you take, it is a viable industry to invest in.