The 10 most expensive materials on Earth
- Materials on our planet vary widely in type and rarity.
- Depending on their relative rarity, their costs can range from pennies to billions, even trillions, per gram.
- But which ones are on the expensive end of this scale?
Have you ever wondered what the ten most expensive materials on Earth are? Well, wonder no longer, as we have scoured the internet to answer this question as best we can.
The following list includes prices that could easily be found per gram. In some cases, costs per gram have been calculated from current market prices per carat. For reference, when used as a measurement of physical weight, a carat (depending on the material) tends to be 1/5th of a gram.
Others are from sources of advanced materials that are very hard to produce. Some of these expensive materials result from human work and are high-tech, while others can be found in nature.
So, without further ado, let's get into it, shall we?
Before we start, please note that the list below is not meant to be complete and is not in any particular order.
1. Antimatter is so rare it costs trillions per gram
Cost per gram: Between $62.5 and 100 trillion
Antimatter is by far the most expensive material on Earth. Although only very small amounts have ever been produced, there is currently no way of storing them.
It requires the highly sophisticated technology found at places like CERN to even dream of "making it."
Today, a gram of antimatter, if it were available, would be worth approximately $80 trillion.
2. Endohedral fullerenes will cost you a fortune per gram
Cost per gram: $145 million to $167 million
Endohedral fullerenes are normal fullerenes with extra atoms, ions, or clusters within inner spheres. The very first lanthanum complex was created in 1985.
It is, essentially, a cage of carbon atoms with a nitrogen atom trapped inside. It could have applications for highly accurate atomic clocks.
Currently, two varieties exist, endohedral metallofullerenes and non-metal doped fullerenes.
3. Californium is another costly material by the gram
Cost per gram: $10 to $27 Million ($10 to $27 per microgram)
Scientists create californium by bombarding curium with alpha particles. This reaction creates the radioactive chemical element with an atomic number of 98.
There are currently ten known isotopes known to exist.
It can help treat certain forms of cancer, detecting gold and silver in ores and residual oil within nearly depleted reservoirs. It can only be created artificially on Earth but is speculated to be made in supernovae.
No wonder it is so expensive.
4. Diamonds are notoriously expensive things
Cost: $1,500 to $100,000 plus per carat, depending on purity, color, etc.
Natural diamonds have long been prized for their beauty and extreme hardness. They are the hardest substance known on Earth, with a Moh's scale score of 10 and a Vickers hardness in the range of 70–150 GPa.
Cost varies widely depending on the diamond in question, with some, like "blue diamonds," fetching $26,280 on average for a 0.5-carat stone and deep blue and vivid blue diamonds costing around $75,000 for a 0.25-carat stone. High-carat blue diamonds can go for upwards of $4 million per carat.
These stones are forged at the very depths of the Earth's crust and upper mantle and, as such, have experienced intense temperatures and pressures. Blue diamonds are incredibly rare and are found in just three areas: Australia, South Africa, and India. Their blue color comes from the element boron.
Their hardness gives them many industrial applications, but synthetic rather than natural diamonds are used. Artificial equivalents are also a lot cheaper to buy. Diamond jewelry is one of the most popular choices for engagement rings.
5. Tritium can only be forged in nuclear reactions
Cost per gram: £30,000
Tritium is forged in the hearts of nuclear reactors by irradiating lithium metal or lithium-bearing ceramic pebbles. It is also one of the most expensive materials on Earth. It is a super heavy type of hydrogen.
Tritium is also a key component used to fuel some nuclear weapons. It is sometimes used for "glow in the dark" stuff like watch hands and as a tracer in biomedical and academic research. Have no fear, though; the beta rays it produces are very weak and can't penetrate human skin. Tritium also has a shallow health risk if ingested, though you should probably rethink your life if you're in the habit of eating it.
6. Taaffeite stone is a very new gemstone
Cost per gram: about $20,000 ($1,500 to $2,500 per carat)
Taaffeite is an incredibly rare gemstone that has only recently become desirable by collectors. It has color ranges from red to purple, and there are thought to be less than ten of the rarest red ones in existence. The primary source for these gems is Tanzania.
So rare is this gemstone that, according to some sources, all of the discovered ones would fill half a cup.
7. Painite is another scarce and very expensive material
Cost per gram: Around $300,000 (or up to $60,000 per carat)
Painite is another very expensive material and possibly one you've never heard about.
It was recognized as a new gemstone in the 1950s and was initially discovered in Myanmar by British mineralogist and gem trader Arthur C.D. Pain, who mistakenly thought it was ruby. The mineral was named after it was determined to be a brand-new mineral species.
Painite can cost anywhere from $50,000 to $60,000 per carat due to its scarcity.
The mineral comprises calcium, zirconium, boron, aluminum, and oxygen. The mineral's usual orange-red to brownish-red color, comparable to topaz, is caused by tiny levels of chromium and vanadium, which are also present in trace amounts.
Due to the infrequent interactions between zirconium and boron in nature, the mineral is extremely rare. The crystals are naturally hexagonal, and only two had been turned into faceted jewels before the end of 2004.
Recent discoveries in the Mogok Area of Myanmar might yield more of these beautiful stones. Regardless of their price, they are in high demand.
8. Grandidierite is a gorgeous but costly gemstone
Cost per gram: About $34,400 per gram (or up to $172,000 per carat)
Grandidierite was initially found in southern Madagascar in 1902. The French explorer Alfred Grandidier (1836–1922), who explored Madagascar and researched its natural history, is remembered by the mineral's name.
Grandidierite takes on a bluer hue with higher iron (Fe) content. The Fe-analogue (Fe, Mg) of grandidierite is the recently discovered gemstone blue ominelite (Mg, Fe).
According to the viewing angle, it can display one of three colors: dark blue-green, colorless (sometimes a very pale yellow), or dark green.
Grandidierite scores 7.5 on the Mohs scale, which indicates that they are quite hard. Grandidierite specimens with significant translucent facets are very uncommon. The largest cut specimen of which the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) is aware weighs 763.5 carats.
9. Emeralds can be very expensive indeed
Cost per gram: Roughly $20,000 per gram (or $100,000 per carat)
Along with diamonds, emeralds are another very well-known and costly gemstone.
The term "emerald" first appeared in English in around the 14th century and is thought to derive originally from the Latin "esmaralda" or "esmaraldus" and their Greek routes meaning "green diamond."
Emeralds are graded using the four fundamental criteria (aka the four Cs); color, clarity, cut, and carat (weight). In grading colored gemstones, color is typically by far the most significant factor.
However, clarity is ranked as a close second in the grading of emeralds. For an emerald to be regarded as a top gemstone, it must have a high degree of transparency in addition to the pure, verdant green hue.
The American jewelry industry included the green vanadium-bearing beryl in the definition of emerald in the 1960s.
However, vanadium emeralds are bought in the United States as emeralds are not regarded as such in the United Kingdom and Europe. In America, phrases like "Colombian emerald" are frequently used to distinguish between traditional emeralds and vanadium emeralds.
10. Plutonium is used for the military and nuclear reactors
Cost per gram: Around $6,000
Last, but by no means least on our list of the most expensive materials on earth is Plutonium. You can mainly find it in the hearts of nuclear reactors and powering satellites that need long-lasting energy. It is derived from the nuclear decay of Uranium but can be found, though rarely, naturally. Plutonium accounts for around one-third of nuclear fission energy,
This form of power can also be used for space travel. The Voyager 1 probe, for example, has platinum batteries that haven't failed to this day and are set to keep powering the probe well into 2025.
And that's your lot for today.
So there you go, the ten most expensive materials on Earth to date. The prices will likely vary as new resources are found, or manufacturing costs change over time. In most cases, especially man-made substances, official prices are tough to "nail down."
The price of antimatter is not going to change anytime soon.
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