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Better Than Gold

October 27, 2015

“Worth its weight in gold” is used to describe very valuable items. But based on weight, gold—worth around $40 a gram—is far from the most valuable commodity around. (This story was originally published in the 28th annual edition, Uncle John’s Factastic Bathroom Reader.)

Better than Gold

CASH

According to the U.S. Bureau of Engraving, all American bills weigh a gram. That means a $50 bill is worth $50 a gram…more than gold.

RHINO HORN

Rhinos are endangered, but their horns are an ingredient in traditional folk medicines in Vietnam, China, and other Asian countries. A gram of powdered rhino horn sells for about $55.

TOMATOES

Genetically modified foods, particularly tomatoes, are trademarked by the agribusiness companies that develop them, such as DuPont and Monsanto. A pound of GMO tomato seeds can run as high as $18,000—more than a pound of gold.

HONEY

Elvish honey can be collected only from a deep cave in northeastern Turkey. Professional climbers have to extract it, meaning that a 4.5-ounce jar costs € 5,000, or $6,800—around $53 a gram.

PLUTONIUM

The active ingredient in nuclear warheads. Price: about $4,000 per gram.

RHODIUM

Listed on the periodic table of elements as a transitional metal, rhodium is rare, but it is a useful substance in pollution prevention. Used to manufacture three-way catalytic converters in car engines, it costs about $45 per gram.

ILLEGAL DRUGS

In terms of their weight, street drugs are very expensive. One 250-microgram dose of LSD costs about $10. That’s $3,000 a gram. (Cocaine is a relative bargain at $150 per gram.)

TAAFFEITE

This beautiful purple gem is thought to be a million times rarer than diamonds. It’s suitably expensive: as much as $20,000 per gram.

TRITIUM

This green-glowing mineral used to light up glow-in-the-dark exit signs is extremely rare and costs $30,000 per gram.

MELANIN

This organic material determines skin tone in humans. But it’s also a natural source of ink, harvested from cuttlefish, who use it to camouflage themselves and avoid predators. Current market price: about $360 a gram.

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