Marilyn Monroe’s Wedding Ring Loses Its Shine – by David Fickling (Bloomberg News – January 3, 2018)

Just as electric cars seem to be taking over, an element inextricably tied to the fortunes of the internal combustion engine is surging.

Palladium hit a 16-year high of $1,094.51 an ounce Tuesday and is 1.5 percent away from breaching its 2001 record of $1,110.50 an ounce, after doubling in price over the past two years. Having traded for a fifth of the cost of platinum as recently as 2009, palladium is now worth more than its sister metal’s $943.65 an ounce.

To understand what’s going on, it’s worth looking to the long shadow cast by Volkswagen AG’s diesel-testing scandal, and the growing toll of diesel emissions on European cities.

Palladium owes its place in the commodity pantheon to catalytic converters. In the 1960s, it was seen as an exotic but useless alternative to platinum, which occurs in the same handful of mines in South Africa, Russia and North America and was at the time principally used for showy jewelry such as Marilyn Monroe’s wedding ring.

As catalytic converters were adopted from the 1970s to change harmful nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons into less-polluting tailpipe emissions, the metals’ talent for encouraging chemical reactions made them increasingly prized.

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