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Analyzing Precious Metals

Precious metals require — and reward — careful analysis. Their high monetary value means that purity is a prime consideration when trading in these metals.

From the rapid assessment of an item of jewelry to the determination of minute traces in ore, detecting and measuring precious metals can present substantial challenges. Traditional methods of analysis are either inaccurate or extremely time-consuming and skill-dependent. Moreover, element concentration levels in the scope of precious metals analysis can extend from trace levels to 100% values. Most of these metals are resistant to dissolution by all but the strongest acids. Some traditional analytical methods like fire assay are time-consuming and demand a high level of skill.

This paper examines the predominant techniques used for precious metals analysis including three modern spectrometer-based techniques. Tables are included to indicate the typical analytical results derived from these approaches.

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