Are Rare Earths and Precious Metals the Same Thing?

In today’s post, we are going to answer a common question people often ask about precious metals…

“Precious metals and rare earth element are the same thing, right?”

Let’s clear up this misconception right away. No, precious metals and rare earths are not the same. In today’s post, we’ll find out what the difference is.

What are Rare Earths?

Photo of samples of rare earth elements, courtesy of Cleanbreak(dot)ca.

Photo of samples of rare earth elements, courtesy of Cleanbreak(dot)ca.

They are all rarely found in nature. They are sought after because many of them glow when electricity passes through them, which explains why they are needed to make the displays for phones. Where do they come from? Most of them are mined in China.

Here is a list of rare earth elements:

Actinium, Americium, Berkelium, Californium, Cerium, Curium, Dysprosium, Einsteinium, Erbium, Europium, Fermium, Gadolinium, Holmium, Lanthanum, Lawrencium, Lutetium, Mendelevium, Neodymium, Neptunium, Nobelium, Plutonium, Praseodymium, Promethium, Protactinium, Samarium, Scandium, Terbium, Thulium, Uranium, Ytterbium and Yttrium.

What Are Precious Metals?

And what do precious metals have in common? Mostly, that they are rare and therefore valuable. They have a few other things in common. They are all lustrous and beautiful. Most are less reactive than other metals, with the exception of silver, which tarnishes easily.

And here is a list of precious metals:

Gold, silver, platinum and the platinum group metals (ruthenium, rhodium, palladium, osmium, and iridium).

As you see, not one of the rare earths also appears on the list of precious metals…nor is one of the precious metals listed among the rare earths.

Can You Make More Money Recycling Rare Earths or Precious Metals?

You will make more money recycling precious metals. Even though rare earth elements are scarce, they are usually not recovered when cellphones or other devices are scrapped and recycled. That’s because only tiny quantities are found in displays and the cost of recovering them is greater than their value.

But if you have lots of old phones, you can make money recovering the small quantities of gold, silver, platinum and other precious metals they contain. Call Specialty Metals Smelters & Refiners today at 800-526-2344 to learn more. And be sure to ask about the discounted or free shipping costs we can offer when you send them to us for testing.

Related Posts:

What Are the Platinum Group Metals  
All about Rhodium, the Other Precious Metal  
What Happens when Platinum Meets Rhodium?  
Reference List of Precious Metal Alloys