Discovered shortly after the turn of the 19th century, palladium is the newest metal to be added to the precious metals roster. Known for its natural silvery-white hue and tarnish-resistant luster, palladium is a metal that holds significant investment interest. Read more about investing in palladium here.
Palladium is one of the six metals included in what’s known as the Platinum Group Metals (PGMs), along with platinum itself, rhodium, ruthenium, iridium, and osmium. Metals in this group are unique for many reasons, perhaps most notably for their relative rarity, particularly compared to other investment materials such as gold and silver. Palladium holds the top spot for the rarest of all the PGMs, ringing in at about 15 times more rare than platinum and 30 times more rare than gold. All PGMs enjoy very low or essentially non-existent rates of tarnishing, are highly resistant to heat, and have high electrical conductivity.
Palladium boasts similar physical and chemical properties to its often more sought after cousin, platinum, including silvery-white coloring and hypoallergenic characteristics, among other features. Palladium does, however, differ from platinum in more ways than one. Palladium is nearly 15% harder, and thus more durable than platinum, in addition to having a lower melting point. Out of all the precious metals that trade on the futures exchange, palladium is the least liquid, another characteristic that sets it apart from its PGM and other investment counterparts.
Palladium is sourced from just four countries around the globe, yet touts a vast repertoire of utilities and applications. Russia leads the charge in palladium supply outputs, with South Africa following closely behind. Canada and the United States also produce supplies of the precious metal, although to much lesser extents than the two aforementioned leaders. While free metal versions of palladium, alloyed with gold and other PGMs, can be found in placer deposits elsewhere around the globe, these sources do not play a major role in standard palladium production. Palladium can also be extracted from spent nuclear fuel, although this method is not used since no existing nuclear reprocessing facility has the means to do so.
Despite these notable rarities and limited supply sources, palladium is used in an impressive array of manufacturing applications, including for the production of dentistry items, blood sugar test strips, electronics, jewelry, groundwater treatment processes, among many others. By far, however, palladium is mostly used in the automobile industry, specifically for catalytic converters that transform harmful exhaust gases into less toxic substances. The precious metal is so essential to this sector that at the turn of the 21st century, Ford Motor Company began stockpiling it in droves to supposedly stave off production slowdowns that global markets were sure would result from a feared gap in Russia’s supply. Alas, this supposedly imminent gap was never realized, although the palladium hoarding does signify the metal’s essential role in the functioning of some of the world’s most prominent industries.
In terms of investments, palladium is one of the few commodity metals that can be included legally in both traditional and Roth IRAs. The other eligible metals are gold, silver and platinum.
The United States Gold Bureau offers clients the chance to incorporate palladium into their own IRAs, investment portfolios or precious metals holdings with our selection of 1oz bars. Our inventory comes from some of the most respected brands in the business, including PAMP and Credit Suisse, and can be acquired through our secure website or by calling one of our Precious Metals Experts at (800) 775-3504.
The initial discovery of palladium was made in 1802 by English chemist William Hyde Wollaston, although he didn’t publicly credit himself as the founder until 1805.
Wollaston’s findings were harshly scrutinized by Irish chemist and mineralogist Richard Chenevix, who denounced the newfound palladium as a mere alloy of platinum and mercury. Wollaston was moved by the arguments of the notoriously combative Chevenix to publish his own work on palladium to prove that it was indeed a precious metal in its own right.
Despite its defining features and broad applicability, palladium didn’t come into its own as a commodity metal until the 1970s, when the world’s prominent industrial countries – most notably the United States – began to enforce new automobile emissions standards. With its ability to quickly catalyze conversions, palladium emerged as the clear – and unmatched – choice for automobile manufacturing, plus many other goods production processes.