Precious Metals

9 Under the Radar Precious Metals Worth a Fortune

Veejay Ssudhan

Veejay Ssudhan

May 29, 2023

While gold, silver, and platinum may immediately come to mind when considering precious metals, they are by no means the only players on the field. There exists an array of lesser-known precious metals that are not only invaluable for industrial applications but also offer promising investment opportunities. In this blog, we delve into the realm of nine such under-the-radar precious metals that could be worth a fortune.

1. Rhodium

In the pantheon of precious metals, rhodium often goes underappreciated. This understated yet extraordinarily valuable metal belongs to the platinum group and possesses unique characteristics that make it truly invaluable.

First isolated in 1803 by English chemist William Hyde Wollaston, rhodium derives its name from ‘rhodon,’ the Greek word for rose. This is a tribute to the rose-red color of its salts. It may lack the instant recognition of gold or platinum. Rhodium’s worth per ounce often surpasses them, making it one of the most valuable precious metals on earth. It is definitely one of the under the radar precious metals.

One of rhodium’s standout qualities is its remarkable resistance to corrosion. This resistance, combined with its high melting point and reflective properties, makes it a perfect candidate for high-temperature furnaces, searchlights, and mirrors. Additionally, rhodium’s durability and shine make it popular for use as a finish for jewelry, often applied as a plating over white gold to enhance the latter’s longevity and lustre.

However, where rhodium truly shines is in its role as a critical component in automotive catalytic converters. These devices reduce harmful emissions, and rhodium is invaluable for this purpose due to its excellent chemical stability and ability to withstand high temperatures. With growing awareness of environmental issues and the resultant regulatory standards, demand for rhodium has seen a substantial surge.

Rhodium Supply and Demand

The rareness of rhodium adds to its value. It’s much scarcer than gold or silver, with 80% of its global supply coming from South Africa. This rarity, combined with its industrial demand, has seen its prices reach record highs in recent years.

However, this extreme price volatility could also pose a risk for investors. While the high prices could mean substantial returns, the relatively low liquidity and potential for sharp price fluctuations mean that investing in rhodium isn’t for the faint-hearted.

Precious Metals List and Value

2. Palladium

As we delve into the world of less-recognized but exceptionally valuable metals, the name Palladium undoubtedly shines through. Despite being lesser-known compared to the likes of gold or silver, palladium holds its own as an incredibly valuable and influential under the radar precious metals.

Discovered in 1803 by the English chemist William Hyde Wollaston, Palladium is named after the asteroid Pallas, which itself was named after the Greek goddess of wisdom. This platinum group metal has qualities that make it not just wise but also incredibly valuable for various industries.

The unique combination of properties that palladium possesses has led to its widespread use across diverse sectors. Palladium’s most significant industrial application lies in the automotive industry. Here it is a critical component of catalytic converters. Due to its ability to absorb vast amounts of hydrogen, palladium helps transform harmful gases into less-damaging substances, contributing significantly towards emission reduction.

Furthermore, palladium’s malleability and ductility make it highly desirable in the electronics and dental industries. Its corrosion resistance also lends well to jewellery manufacturing, where it is often used as an alloy with gold to produce ‘white gold’.

Palladium’s rarity is another factor contributing to its high value. It is much rarer than gold, with the majority of the global supply coming from just two countries – Russia and South Africa. This rarity, coupled with the ever-growing demand, has led to a surge in palladium prices, making it one of the most valuable metals per ounce.

However, investing in palladium is not without risks. Its price can be volatile, primarily because of its tight supply-demand balance. A disruption in supply or a sudden drop in demand could lead to significant price swings. Therefore, potential investors must tread with caution.

3. Ruthenium

Often overlooked in the conventional list of precious metals, Ruthenium is a rare, under-the-radar element that holds tremendous value, not just in terms of price but also for its unique properties and versatile applications.

Ruthenium, first discovered in 1844 by Russian scientist Karl Ernst Claus, is a member of the platinum group metals, named after the Latin ‘Ruthenia’, meaning ‘Russia’. It is one of the rarest elements in the earth’s crust, and a majority of its global supply is sourced from mines in Russia and North America.

The unique blend of properties possessed by Ruthenium makes it an invaluable component in various industries. Ruthenium is most commonly used in electronics, where it’s incorporated into resistors and capacitors due to its impressive electrical resistance properties. It’s also applied in the manufacturing of hard disk drives, where thin films of Ruthenium serve as intermediary layers between data-storing magnetic sections.

Interestingly, Ruthenium has also found its way into the world of jewelry. Because of its hardness and ability to achieve a high polish, it is often alloyed with platinum and palladium to enhance their properties, making jewelry more durable and aesthetically pleasing.

Moreover, Ruthenium’s role as a catalyst in the chemical industry adds another dimension to its worth. It catalyzes the production of acetic acid, a crucial industrial chemical, thus further amplifying its demand.

Like other precious metals, the rarity and high demand of Ruthenium contribute to its substantial price. However, the market for Ruthenium is relatively small and specialized, which means it can be subject to price volatility and potential liquidity issues.

4. Iridium

Among the constellation of precious metals, iridium is a lesser-known star that shines with unique properties and a value that often surpasses the more recognized members of its category.

Discovered in 1803 by English chemist Smithson Tennant, iridium derives its name from the Latin word ‘iris’, meaning ‘rainbow’, inspired by the colorful salts it produced. Despite being one of the densest elements, it maintains a low profile in the mainstream precious metal market.

Iridium’s significance lies in its impressive properties and diverse applications. This corrosion-resistant and heat-tolerant metal is chiefly utilized in the manufacturing of high-performance spark plugs in the automotive industry. It is also indispensable in the electronics sector, where its high melting point and stable electrical properties make it perfect for electrical contacts and crucibles.

Interestingly, iridium is also a significant player in the field of medicine. Its radioactive isotope, iridium-192, is utilized in cancer treatments for internal radiotherapy. Furthermore, it finds usage in the jewelry industry, where it is often alloyed with other metals to enhance durability and luster.

Iridium’s rarity significantly contributes to its value. It is one of the least abundant elements in the Earth’s crust, and a majority of the global supply is sourced as a byproduct of nickel and copper mining. This rarity, coupled with its essential industrial applications, has led to high prices, thereby making it a lucrative asset.

Despite its many advantages, investing in iridium requires careful consideration. Its niche market and tight supply-demand balance can lead to significant price volatility. Moreover, its specialized uses make it vulnerable to changes in specific industries.

5. Osmium

In the world of precious metals, osmium is often an overlooked contender. This exceptionally dense element holds significant value and has unique properties that make it an unsung hero in the pantheon of precious metals.

Discovered in 1803 by English chemist Smithson Tennant, osmium derives its name from the Greek word ‘osme’, meaning ‘smell’. It’s a reference to the pungent odor of its naturally occurring volatile oxide. Although less famous than its cousins like gold, silver, or platinum, osmium is a fascinating element whose value per ounce frequently surpasses those of better-known metals.

What sets osmium apart is its extraordinary density, which makes it the densest naturally occurring element. This property, coupled with its high melting point and superior corrosion resistance, finds its utility in high-pressure applications like fountain pen tips, electrical contacts, and other wear-resistant equipment.

Interestingly, osmium has a sparkly luster when polished and is used in some high-end jewelry and watchmaking processes, adding to its demand. It’s also utilized in the creation of durable alloys, often combined with platinum for surgical implants and aircraft engine parts.

Osmium’s rarity significantly contributes to its hefty price tag. It’s one of the rarest elements in the Earth’s crust, primarily sourced from Canada, Russia, and South Africa. Its limited availability and unique properties have led to its high market value.

However, investing in osmium comes with certain considerations. Its market is niche and less liquid compared to more well-known precious metals. Additionally, the price volatility of osmium, driven by its unique supply-demand dynamics, may pose potential risks to investors.

6. Rhenium

Among the constellation of all precious metals, Rhenium often flies under the radar precious metals. But don’t let its low profile fool you – this extremely rare and resilient metal has a wealth of uses and a value that soars high.

Discovered in 1925 by German chemists Ida and Walter Noddack, Rhenium was one of the last stable elements to be identified. Its name originates from ‘Rhenus’, the Latin name for the Rhine River. Rhenium may lack the mainstream recognition of gold or silver, but it has a unique set of properties that make it an invaluable asset in various industries.

Rhenium stands out for its exceptional heat-resistant properties. With one of the highest melting points of all elements, it is ideal for high-temperature applications. It’s no wonder then that Rhenium plays a pivotal role in the aerospace industry. The metal is used in the manufacture of jet engine components, where its ability to withstand extreme heat and its resistance to wear make it irreplaceable.

Further, Rhenium is also used in the production of catalysts for the petrochemical industry, particularly in the refining of lead-free gasoline. Other applications include electrical contacts, thermocouples, and X-ray machines.

Like many precious metals, Rhenium’s scarcity significantly contributes to its value. This element is one of the rarest on earth’s crust, and most of it is obtained as a byproduct of copper and molybdenum mining. The combination of its rarity and industrial demand has propelled Rhenium’s market value, making it a high-priced asset.

However, investing in Rhenium comes with caveats. Its market is specialized, and any disruption in the industries it serves can impact its value. It’s also susceptible to price volatility due to its tight supply-demand dynamics.

7. Tellurium

If we journey off the beaten track of well-known precious metals, we uncover some lesser-known elements, like Tellurium, that are no less precious and indeed are worth a small fortune. This falls in one of the under the radar precious metals of all time.

Discovered in 1782 by Franz-Joseph Müller von Reichenstein, Tellurium was later named after the Latin word for Earth, ‘Tellus’. Although it does not enjoy the limelight as gold or silver does, Tellurium’s unique properties and its critical role in modern technology place it firmly in the echelons of valuable precious metals.

Tellurium stands out for its exceptional conductivity of heat and electricity. This makes it a highly sought-after element in the tech industry. One of its primary uses is in the production of thermoelectric devices and solar panels. Here, Tellurium is alloyed with Bismuth to create efficient and eco-friendly energy solutions.

Furthermore, Tellurium is also used in the manufacturing of rewritable optical discs, like DVDs and Blu-ray discs. In metallurgy, it’s used as an additive to improve the machinability of certain steel and copper products.

Tellurium Investment

Similar to other precious metals, the rarity of Tellurium contributes to its significant value. Most of the world’s supply of Tellurium is produced as a byproduct of copper and lead refining. Its scarcity, coupled with growing demand in the renewable energy sector, has seen prices for Tellurium increase substantially.

However, investment in Tellurium is not without risk. As it’s closely tied to the technology and renewable energy sectors, any changes in these industries can significantly affect Tellurium’s demand and, consequently, its price. Moreover, the relatively small and specialized market for Tellurium could lead to potential liquidity issues for investors.

In essence, Tellurium is a hidden gem among precious metals. Its unique properties and critical role in the tech-driven world make it a valuable asset. However, potential investors should exercise caution due to its market volatility and the impact of industry-specific factors.

8. Indium

Navigating through the sea of well-known precious metals, we find Indium. It is somewhat obscure element that nevertheless holds immense value in our modern, tech-dependent world. Indium is definitely one of the under the radar precious metals in the world.

Indium was discovered in 1863 by German chemists Ferdinand Reich and Hieronymus Theodor Richter. The element’s name derives from the indigo blue line in its spectrum that initially indicated its existence. Indium might not bask in the recognition enjoyed by gold or platinum. It has carved out a niche for itself as an indispensable asset in the realm of technology.

Indium’s star shines brightest in the electronics industry. Its primary use is in the production of indium tin oxide (ITO), a material used in touch screens, flat-panel televisions, and solar panels. This is due to its exceptional ability to conduct electricity and simultaneously remain transparent.

Moreover, Indium’s low melting point and unique characteristic of ‘wetability’ (its ability to stick to glass and metals) make it a perfect choice for soldering applications. It is also used in the manufacture of certain types of semiconductors and LEDs.

Indium’s rarity and burgeoning demand in the technology sector have contributed to its considerable market value. Most of the world’s supply of Indium comes as a byproduct of zinc mining. It is coming primarily from Canada, China, and South Korea.

However, investing in Indium requires thorough risk evaluation. As its demand is tied to specific high-tech industries, shifts in these sectors could impact its value significantly. Additionally, as a niche market, Indium may not offer the same liquidity as more traditional precious metals, which could pose a challenge for investors.

9. Thallium

Venturing beyond the more renowned precious metals, we encounter Thallium. It is a lesser-known element that carries significant value, and has a host of unique properties and applications. It is one of the under the radar precious metals known to create fortune.

First discovered by Sir William Crookes in 1861, Thallium is a metal that has  been used in a range of industries. It is due to its electrical conductivity, high density, and malleability. Its name is derived from the Greek word ‘thallos’. This  means ‘green shoot’, referencing the bright green spectral emission lines that characterized its discovery.

One of the main uses of Thallium is in the manufacture of highly refractive glass. It also finds application in medical imaging technology. Thallium-201, a radioactive isotope, is employed in nuclear medicine for diagnostic procedures. Used in procedures such as thallium stress tests that evaluate the health of the heart.

In the electronics sector, Thallium is utilized in the production of certain semiconductors and photoelectric cells. Additionally, Thallium’s unique physical properties make it useful in temperature measurement devices and radiation detection equipment.

Thallium’s rarity significantly contributes to its substantial market value. The majority of Thallium is sourced as a byproduct from the refining of heavy metal sulfide ores. A significant portion of the world’s supply coming from China and Kazakhstan.

However, prospective investors in Thallium should bear in mind several factors. Its market is specialized, and price volatility can be an issue, given the tight supply-demand balance. Furthermore, as its demand is largely tied to specific industries, shifts in these sectors could have significant impacts on its value.


In the precious metals market, stepping off the beaten path can often lead to opportunities that others may overlook. These metals may not have the glamour and widespread recognition that gold, silver, and platinum enjoy. Their unique properties and rising industrial applications make them worthy of consideration for the discerning investor.

However, investing in precious metals, especially the lesser-known ones, requires doing thorough research and understanding the market trends. You must know the factors influencing the demand and supply of these metals.

As with any investment, there are risks associated with investing in these under-the-radar precious metals. Therefore, it’s always advisable to seek guidance from financial advisors or experts in the field before making an investment decision. By staying informed, investors can potentially unlock great value from these less-familiar precious metals. It can be paving the way for profitable investment portfolios.

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