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What Is Palladium? The “Other” Precious Metal


Precious metals are simply elemental metals with a high economic value, generally due to a combination of usefulness and rarity. While there are around a dozen materials that are often considered precious metals, the “Big Four” are gold, silver, platinum, and palladium.

Gold and silver are “household names” – you would be hard-pressed to find someone who didn’t know what gold or silver were. Even platinum is well known, perhaps because you can win a platinum medal in a race. 

But palladium? To most people, the word “palladium” sounds more like a recently discovered planet than it does an investment-grade metal. 

It’s well worth learning about this shiny substance, however, in part because it has been a fantastic investment in recent years. 


What Is Palladium?

Palladium is a silvery-white metal that was first discovered in 1803. Unlike gold and silver, which have a history dating back thousands of years, palladium is a relatively recent discovery. 

Palladium is part of the “platinum group metals” (PGM), a group of materials that share similar properties. The other members are platinum, rhodium, ruthenium, iridium and osmium. Of these, only platinum and palladium are commonly used for investment purposes. 

Palladium is valuable for two reasons:

  1. It is exceptionally rare, with only a handful of known deposits worldwide.
  2. It is exceptionally useful, with dozens of applications in many industries.


What Is Palladium Used For? 

The primary application for palladium is in making catalytic converters for the automotive industry. Catalytic converters are used to convert harmful gasses from automotive exhaust into their safer individual components. As such, they are a key part of just about every automobile and machine powered by fossil fuels. 

Demand from the automotive industry makes up over 50% of the total demand for palladium in a typical year. Other common uses include:

  • Jewelry (palladium is often mixed with gold to create “white gold”)
  • Medicine
  • Dentistry
  • Groundwater treatment 
  • Hydrogen purification
  • Hydrogen fuel cells
  • And more

Because it has substantial use applications, palladium is valuable not only because it’s rare, but because it’s useful. Compare this to gold, which has far fewer industrial applications, and it’s easy to see why investment demand for palladium has soared in the last decade. 


Can I Invest in Palladium?

Invest in Palladium bullion

Yes, you can! Palladium is available in bars (generally 1oz) and coins (also typically 1oz). You can see live palladium pricing from Bellevue Rare Coins here. BRC is one of the few precious metals dealers in the Seattle area that stocks palladium coins and bars. 

Investors can choose from a variety of palladium products:

  • American Palladium Eagle 1oz
  • Canadian Palladium Maple Leaf 1oz
  • 1oz Palladium bars from Pamp Suisse, JM and others

Keep in mind that because palladium is less commonly traded than silver and gold, in-stock selection may vary. However, you can always place an order over the phone, or stop by one of our five convenient locations to place an order. 


How Has the Palladium Spot Price Performed?

In the last few years, all precious metals have enjoyed a bull market run. But none has come close to the exceptional performance of palladium. 

In the last 5 years (as of June 2021), palladium spot price has gone up nearly 400%. 

In the same time frame, gold has appreciated roughly 50%, silver 62%, and platinum just 14%. 

The S&P 500, an index of the 500 largest public companies in America, has gone up roughly 102% in this same time period. 

Nobody can accurately predict where the price of palladium is heading next. But no one would argue that its recent run has been nothing less than spectacular.


Final Thoughts

Palladium is a bit of an underdog. It doesn’t get much media coverage, and it’s simply not very well known, even among precious metal investors. 

But if the last few years has taught us anything, perhaps it is that underdogs can truly shine when the conditions are right.

Palladium has robust industrial demand, is difficult to extract (and rare to find), and is an exceptionally useful metal due to its unique properties. It’s easy to see why demand for palladium—both from industry and from investors—has been so strong. 

We will certainly continue adding palladium to our investment portfolios. How about you?


Looking to buy palladium in Seattle, Bellevue, Tacoma or the surrounding area? Bellevue Rare Coins stocks a wide variety of investment-grade precious metals, including palladium, gold, silver, and platinum. Stop by one of our five locations (Bellevue, West Seattle, Lynnwood, Issaquah and Tacoma) or call 425-BUY-GOLD

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