The 9 Most Surprising Things Worth More Than Their Weight In Gold
Hold on to that... it's worth its weight in gold.
But is it really? Although it's a common figure of speech, very few things actually meet the criteria.
Today, one troy ounce of gold is worth about $1,250. With the help of some basic multiplication and division, and our knowledge of weight conversions, let's derive some other basic gold prices, rounded up to the nearest dollar:
One troy ounce of gold = $1,250
One standard ounce of gold (slice of bread) = $1,140
One pound of gold (loaf of bread) = $18,229
One gram of gold (dollar bill) = $40
One kilogram of gold (pineapple) = $40,187
One ton of gold (small car) = $36,457,500
Off the top of your head, can you think of any one pound object (about the weight of a loaf of bread) worth $18,229? It took me a while to dream up some answers. Pound-for-pound, here are some of the few things that actually meet the criterion. At least for now.
If you're in the mood to learn more about gold, check out one of our most popular articles of all time, 50 Surprising Facts You Never Knew About Gold.
A Slightly-Large Multi-Millionaire
A Slightly-Large Multi-Millionaire (200 pounds) -- $3,645,800
Worth its weight in gold.
Of course, this standard doesn't only apply to slightly larger millionaires -- it applies to everyone. The amount needed to physically be "worth your weight in gold" varies with your actual weight. If you're supermodel Heidi Klum (estimated weight: 120 pounds), and your net worth is $2,187,480, you too are worth your weight in gold.
The billionaires have it even easier. Microsoft [Nasdaq: MSFT] founder Bill Gates could balloon to almost three million pounds, and still be worth more than his weight in the yellow metal.
Want to know how much you're worth in gold? Just multiply your weight by $18,229. (If you're not quite there yet, don't let it get you down -- Here at InvestingAnswers, we think all of our readers are worth more than any amount of gold.)
Platinum (1.0 kilogram) -- $48,225
Worth 1.2 times its weight in gold.
Depending on who you are, you probably think of platinum as either industrial or precious. Special chemical properties make this element highly resistant to wear and tarnish -- which is just one of the many reasons it's become so popular. Platinum also has a higher melting point than most other substances, so producers can easily burn away impurities without affecting the pure metal.
Platinum is commonly used as a catalyst in chemical reactions -- if fact, you could probably find it in your car's catalytic converter. 55% of all the platinum produced each year is used for vehicle emissions control devices.
Platinum is also a popular metal for jewelry (resistant to tarnish), electronics, spark plugs and anti-cancer drugs. Industrial demand has a large impact on platinum prices, which is why it's considered to be a more volatile investment than gold. While platinum is currently the more expensive of the two, this isn't always the case. In general, platinum prices will drop below gold prices during times of economic uncertainty (when the demand from industries is lower), and rise above in times of growth.
Even though it's not always more expensive than gold, platinum will always be the rarer of the two metals; Platinum occurs in higher abundances on the moon than in most places on earth. This rarity has turned it into a symbol of wealth and prestige. Platinum cards have greater privileges than their "gold" equivalents, and "going platinum" means you've sold twice as many records as your "golden" counterparts.
$50 bill (1.0 gram) -- $50
Worth 1.25 times its weight in gold.
This one is pretty straightforward. A U.S. $50 bill weighs about one gram. The same weight of gold is worth around $40. Thus, a $50 bill carries 25% more purchasing power than the same weight of gold.
Because all U.S. bills weigh the same, we can also deduce that $100 bills are also worth more than their weight in gold (in this case, 2.5 times).
Rhodium (1.0 kilograms) -- $75,000
Worth 1.9 times its weight in gold.
For the most part, gold is considered a luxury item. It's expensive because it's hard to find. So you'd imagine that rhodium, the most expensive member of the platinum group of metals, and worth nearly twice its weight in gold, would be twice as rare. However, the amount of gold produced each year is actually 100 times greater than the amount of rhodium. If rarity were the sole standard of price (and assuming gold was priced correctly), one kilogram of rhodium would be worth around $1,250,000.
Most people have a little rhodium parked under their own roof -- or at least in their garage. This super-rare metal is used in catalytic converters, helping to curb CO2 emissions in cars. In 2007, 81% of the world's production of rhodium was used to produce three-way catalytic converters. Rhodium has also come to symbolize the ultimate status symbol, when more "common" metals such as silver, gold, or platinum just won't do. In 1979, the Guinness Book of World Records gave Paul McCartney a rhodium-plated disc for being history's all time best-selling songwriter and recording artist.
Cocaine (1.0 grams) -- $100
Worth 2.5 times its weight in gold.
The production, distribution and sale of cocaine is restricted and illegal in most countries. Still, the estimated U.S. cocaine market exceeded $70 billion in 2005, more than the revenue generated by Starbucks [Nasdaq: SBUX].
It's hard to believe that the illegal drug market can outperform a company with a coffee shop on every corner. But cocaine prices average $100 per gram, and nearly 1,000 tons of the narcotic are produced each year (U.S. government estimates). In 2008, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that approximately 36.8 million (or 14.7%) of Americans 12 and older had tried cocaine at least once in their lifetimes.
LSD, an illegal psychedelic, is also said to be worth its weight in gold (not that we're advocating using illicit drugs as a new form of currency).
Full-Length Russian Sable Fur Coat
Full-Length Russian Sable Fur Coat (5.0 pounds) -- $300,000
Worth 3.3 times its weight in gold.
The most prized and expensive fur in the world, wild Russian sable is renowned for its legendary silky quality, rarity, and light weight. The fur ranges in color from light to dark brown, although the majority of the price corresponds to sable's abundance of glossy blackness.
The sable, a close relative to the mink, has been a highly valued item in the fur trade since the early Middle Ages. Today, most sable found in the wild live in protected reserves, although some are ranched and bred for their fur.
Sable from Russia has denser and silkier fur than its Canadian and Asian counterparts, and sable from Russia's Barguzin Valley is by far the finest of all specimens. During Czarist Russia, Barguzin sable was reserved for only the czar and his family's use. Even now, the Russian government maintains a monopoly on the ultra-fine fur; the country strictly controls the sable breeding stock, and only sells furs at auctions held a few times each year.
American Express Centurion Card
American Express Centurion Card (0.53 ounces) -- $2,500
Worth 4.1 times its weight in gold.
Some people say the American Express Centurion Card really carries more weight than those other flimsy credit cards. And they'd be right. Not only do these coveted cards come with a personal concierge and zero spending limits, but they physically weigh more. While the average plastic credit card weighs about 0.2 ounces, the Centurion Card, fashioned out of titanium, weighs 0.53 ounces. It also comes with a $2,500 annual service fee.
American Express (NYSE: AXP) introduced the card in 1999, modeling it after the notorious "black card" of urban legend. This mythical black card was rumored to have limitless spending power, endless perks, and serious street cred (it was only issued to the super-wealthy and powerful). While no such card actually existed at the time, American Express was keen to bring this legend to life.
Not much is officially known about AmEx's mysterious Centurion Card, except that it's particularly exclusive -- it's speculated that fewer than 100,000 Centurion Cards are in circulation across the globe. From 1999 to 2006, the Centurion Card was available by invitation only, and even then, invitations were only extended to AmEx cardholders who charged at least $250,000 each year. Today, any big spender can request an invite, as long as they meet the annual spending minimum. At least, that's what I've heard.
One Carat "Gem-Quality" Diamonds
One carat "gem-quality" diamonds (1.0 standard ounce) -- $355,000
Worth 311 times its weight in gold.
According to the experts at Blue Nile (Nasdaq: NILE), a basic one carat "gem-quality" diamond (like the kind found in an engagement ring) costs around $2,500. 142 one carat diamonds would weigh close to one standard ounce, and that little pile of diamonds would cost about $355,000 versus $1,140 for the same pile of gold.
Like almost everything, diamond prices are determined by supply and demand. Part of the reason they're more expensive than gold is because they occur less often in nature (for every ton of diamonds mined annually, 72 tons of gold are mined). But there's a debate as to whether they're completely deserving of their luxe price tag.
You see, diamonds aren't as rare as many people think. Over the last century, De Beers (one of the world's largest diamond miners and jewelers) has managed the price of diamonds by strategically controlling their supply (making them appear rarer) and then driving up demand by marketing them as a symbol of love and commitment.
One Share of Berkshire Hathaway Class-A Stock
One Share of Berkshire Hathaway Class-A Stock (5.0 grams) -- $117,000
Worth 585 times its weight in gold.
Even if this little sheet of paper weighed five pounds, it would still be worth more than its weight in gold.
Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-A) is essentially a portfolio of companies managed by Warren Buffett, the Oracle of Omaha. Its holdings epitomize the investing strategy Buffett's made famous: Only buy companies you'd want to hold forever. [Understanding the Four Pillars of Warren Buffett]
Berkshire Hathaway Class-A shares have traded above $100,000 since 2006. Among other things, it's notable for never splitting its shares (although the Class-B shares saw a 50-to-1 stock split earlier this year). This refusal to split has led to its high per-share price, as well as its low liquidity, effectively pricing out speculators. This is exactly what Buffett wanted to create, a company meant for people to buy and hold, not trade.