A precious metal is a rare, naturally occurring metallic chemical element of high economic value or perhaps more correctly of extremely high psychological value and medium to very low true economic industrial value.
Chemically, the precious metals are less reactive than most elements, have high lustre, are softer or more ductile, 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 each have an ISO 4217 currency code.
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The best-known precious metals are the coinage metals gold and silver. While both have industrial uses, they are better known for their uses in art, jewellery 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. Radioactive polonium, radium, actinium and protactinium, are not considered precious due to the health risk they pose.
The demand for precious metals is driven not only by their practical use, but also by their role as investments and a store of value. Historically, precious metals have commanded much higher prices than common industrial metals.