A few things are more expensive per weight than money, including diamonds, gold, platinum, and elements like Californium, Tritium, and Plutonium.
Money is an excellent medium of exchange and makes it easy to pay for goods and services, settle debts, and collect taxes.
Before the first currency was invented 5,000 years ago by the Mesopotamian people, people bartered for goods and services.
Metal coins – including gold and silver coins – date between 600 M.C. and 1250 B.C.
The first bank banknotes appeared in the seventh century and were developed in China during the Tang and Song dynasties.
Banknotes are light and easy to transport, and it is effortless to create different values by changing the design.
Despite big technological advances, like credit cards and mobile payments, over 50% of the total value of all consumer transactions in South Africa still uses cash.
Apart from transacting, banknotes are also used as a store of value. Many safes and safety deposit boxes are stuffed with Dollars, Euros, and Rands.
A good example came from 2009 when customs officials at Heathrow Airport confiscated £675 000 in U.K. bank notes from South African billionaire Christo Wiese.
Wiese explained that he was carrying the money from his safety deposit box in London to his safety deposit box in Luxembourg.
People use banknotes as a physical store of value because they are small and light.
A R200 note, for example, only weighs around one gram and has a relatively small volume.
However, a few things are more valuable than money in weight and volume, like diamonds, gold, silver, and radioactive materials.
Californium – R495,759,960 per gram
Californium is a radioactive element with the symbol Cf and atomic number 98. Californium-252 has a number of specialized uses as a strong neutron emitter:
- It is a portable neutron source to identify gold or silver ores through neutron activation analysis.
- It can be used in moisture gauges to locate water and oil-bearing layers in oil wells.
- It is used in brachytherapy to treat various types of cancer.
Flawless Diamond – R2,450,000 per gram
Flawless diamonds have no inclusions or blemishes on the surface, making them far more expensive and sought after than other diamonds.
Tritium – R550,844 per gram
Tritium or hydrogen-3 is a rare and radioactive isotope of hydrogen. The nucleus of tritium contains one proton and two neutrons, making it unstable and radioactive.
- A common use of tritium involves glow-in-the-dark lighting and signs.
- Tritium is used as a tracer in biomedical and academic research.
- Some countries use tritium as fuel for thermonuclear weapons.
- Tritium may also be used to generate electricity in fusion reactors which are currently under development.
Plutonium – R91,800 per gram
Plutonium is a radioactive chemical element with the symbol Pu and atomic number 94. It is an actinide metal of silvery-grey appearance that tarnishes when exposed to air and forms a dull coating when oxidized.
- Plutonium-238 generates heat through its radioactive decay process, which makes it useful as a heat source for sensitive electrical components in satellites and a power source for satellites.
- Plutonium-239 is used to make nuclear weapons.
Gold – R983 per gram
Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au and atomic number 79. Gold is a precious metal that has been used for coinage, jewellery, and other arts throughout recorded history.
Rhodium – R826 per gram
Rhodium is a chemical element with the symbol Rh and atomic number 45. It is a very rare, silvery-white, hard, corrosion-resistant transition metal.
It is used as an alloying agent for hardening and improving the corrosion resistance of platinum and palladium.
Platinum – R531 per gram
Platinum is a chemical element with the symbol Pt and atomic number 78. It is a dense, malleable, ductile, highly unreactive, precious, silverish-white metal.
Its main use is in catalytic converters for cars, trucks, and buses, which accounts for around 50% of demand.
- It is used for jewellery.
- It is used in the chemicals industry as a catalyst for the production of nitric acid, silicone, and benzene.
- It is used as a catalyst to improve the efficiency of fuel cells.
- The electronics industry uses it for computer hard disks and thermocouples.
- It is used to make optical fibres, LCDs, turbine blades, spark plugs, pacemakers, and dental fillings.
- Platinum compounds are important chemotherapy drugs used to treat cancers.
Silver – R359 per gram
Silver is a chemical element with the symbol Ag and atomic number 47. It is a soft, white, lustrous transition metal and exhibits the highest electrical conductivity of all metals.
Silver has long been valued as a precious metal and is used in many bullion coins, sometimes alongside gold.
Fresh White Truffles – R211 per gram
Italian white truffles are a delicate and rare type of edible mushroom mostly grown in Italy. The season runs from September to December.
R200 Note – R200.00
South Africa’s R200 banknotes were introduced in 1994 and feature a leopard. They remain the highest-value banknote in South Africa.