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Which elements are the “noble metals”?

Learn about the select group of elements known as noble metals.

Noble metals are metals resistent to chemical reaction. [©Shutterstock, 2010]
©Shutterstock, 2010
Noble metals are metals resistent to chemical reaction.

The noble metals are gold (Au, element 79), silver (Ag, element 47), mercury (Hg, element 80), and the six-member platinum (Pt, element 78) group. In addition to platinum, the platinum group includes palladium (Pd, element 46), iridium (Ir, element 77), rhodium (Rh, element 45), ruthenium (Ru, element 44), and osmium (Os, element 76).

Behavior of Noble Metals

The term "noble metals" refers to those metals highly resistant to chemical reaction or oxidation (resistant to corrosion) and is contrasted to "base" metals which are not so resistant. The term has its origins in ancient alchemy whose goals of transformation and perfection were pursued through the different properties of metals and chemicals. The term is not synonymous with "precious metals," although a metal, like platinum, may be both.

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