A highly valuable precious metal, gold is often used to make jewellery and its value is carefully monitored worldwide, even though it is no longer used to make any form of currency. One of its lesser known uses, however, is as a health supplement. It is thought that the Japanese originated the custom of ingesting gold in food and beverages to improve health and wellbeing, but this practice can also be identified in many European countries. Another lesser known use of gold is as protection from the sun. Astronauts in space wear gold coated visors to protect their eyes from dangerous rays and many parts of space crafts have a gold covering to deflect radiation. Some buildings, such as the RoyalBankPlaza building in Toronto even have gold coating on their windows to reflect light.
A rare and expensive metal, only 3 tonnes of iridium are produced per year. Iridium jewellery can be eye wateringly expensive, however, when it isn’t being used to make jewellery the uses of iridium are surprisingly mundane. Due to the fact it is very sturdy, almost immune to corrosion and has an extremely high melting point, iridium is favoured for use in objects that need to handle a lot of pressure. This includes spark plugs, compass bearings and even the tip of fountain pens.
Another precious metal, we are used to seeing silver in various decorative forms, whether that be jewellery or household objects. But have you ever heard of silver being used in clothing? If you buy antimicrobial socks, the kind that swear to eliminate any nasty foot odours, then are actually buying socks with tiny, tiny bits of silver included in the blend of fiber. It has also traditionally been used in photography. In the form of silver halide crystals, silver is light sensitive and is known for producing high quality, beautiful prints.
A highly useful metal, we are used to seeing aluminium in the form of cans or foil. However, aluminium is incredibly light and is also used to make jewellery as an alternative to precious metals. When aluminium was first discovered, it was very difficult to produce and as it could only be manufactured in small quantities any jewellery produced using aluminium was priced as high as jewellery made from platinum. Vintage aluminium jewellery is still very collectible and lots of modern costume jewellery can be found made from aluminium.