The Five Most Expensive Elements in the World

The Earth is a truly wondrous and marvelous thing. Even after thousands of years of human existence, there are still so many new discoveries left to be made. Some of the most interesting things about this lovely planet of ours are the natural elements that exist. There have been many elements that have been discovered throughout time—some are precious while others are not so much. There are probably hundreds more we haven’t even discovered yet. Out of all the elements that have been discovered here in the world, here are the five that are the most expensive and precious.

1. Francium – approximately $1 billion per gram

You might ask how could such an element be so expensive. The cost of this element comes from the fact that its half-life is only 22 minutes. The billion per gram is completely theoretical, since one gram of francium has never even been observed. The biggest amount of francium ever produced was a cluster of more than 300,000 atoms. However, this cluster or even a gram of francium would disappear within minutes of its creation, so at the moment it really has no practical use in today’s world. There are people out there that might have billions to spare just to get a glimpse of this element, and we’re sure that scientists are able to produce it just for that matter.

2. Californium – $25 million per gram

We’re completely dialing it down to the millions now with Californium, an element that was developed at the University of California back in 1950. The element was produced from curium and alpha particles, but only a few grams of the element have ever been produced. In today’s world, only a half-gram of Californium is produced each year, so that’s the reason why the price tag on it is so high. The primary use of the is element is as a portable source of neutrons for the detection of other elements such as gold.

3. Carbon – $65k per gram

Considered as one of the most important elements for life, Carbon is quite expensive for its abundance. Carbon is very versatile as well, as it can take on many different forms such as coal and graphite. We all know that both coal and graphite are inexpensive. However, when carbon atoms are arranged a certain way, the price tag can climb up significantly. For example, diamond is made out of carbon as well, but it’s hard to compare diamonds to coal. Diamonds can cost as much as $65k per gram—not exactly pocket change. The difference is all in the way the atoms are arranged. The way that it’s arranged in a diamond gives it a better look, stronger make, and just a more precious quality altogether. There are pieces of jewelry made out of diamonds that cost more than that as well.

4. Plutonium – $4k per gram

Considering that it’s used for creating nuclear weapons and reactors, you’d think that there’d be a bigger price tag on plutonium. This element is quite radioactive, so it’s very dangerous to handle. You can imagine that only a select number of people would ever have any need for plutonium, but the element itself is not completely scarce. They’re available for those who might need it in whatever amounts. Laws that will make plutonium a little bit more difficult to come by also accompany the $4k price tag. You’ll have to get a license to get your hands on these nuclear materials, and you’ll probably be monitored somehow if you do.

5. Scandium – $270 per gram

This is a rare earth metal that was first observed in 1970. It’s used primarily in alloys, and as a matter of fact, that’s probably its only practical application. The price tag, although incomparable to the other elements on this list, is still a lot especially since you would need a lot of the element to make something useful. Sold at $270 per gram, scandium’s global trade annually of 10 tonnes (about 10 million grams) amount to $2.7 billion worth of money. That’s a huge sum; but considering how rare the material actually is, it’s even more impressive to think about.


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