Ultimate Precious Metal Gems Card Guide
Precious Metal Gems, or PMGs for the sake of brevity, are some of the most iconic parallels in the hobby. These eye-catching cards helped establish the market for colored parallels and serial numbered cards.
While they carry the most weight in basketball collecting, PMGs have been featured in every major sport and have even been extended to Marvel products.
The guide begins with basketball below. Use the tabs above to get information for every Precious Metal Gems set, sorted by sport. The final tab is a real-time look at the 20 most-watched PMG cards currently listed on eBay.
The parallel that started it all, 1997-98 Metal Universe Basketball brought collectors the colorful PMGs that still remain popular in the collecting world. The set features 123 cards, as checklists were not included. Each card is numbered to 100. Although not separately numbered, the first ten cards of each print run are green and the remaining 90 are red.
Deviating form the colored-foil style, 1997-98 Metal Universe Championship Basketball applied a finish reminiscent of an Atomic Refractor to this rare parallel set. With a slightly smaller checklist of 98 cards and a print run of only 50, Championship has one of the smallest total quantities. Checklists were again left out for this PMG parallel.
1998-99 Metal Universe marked the last year of the original basketball Precious Metal Gems. The PMG finish was tweaked again and the set resembles a regular Refractor with a gold tint. The full checklist includes 123 cards and excludes checklists, with a print run of 50. A rare one-of-one PMG Masters parallel is also available. Both PMG versions were only found in hobby boxes.
Nearly a decade later, PMGs re-emerged from the collecting abyss for a brief revival in 2008-09 Skybox Metal Universe Basketball. Fleer-Skybox declared bankruptcy and was purchased by Upper Deck in 2005. This was Upper Deck's first attempt at re-establishing the PMG brand. The set brought back the original color scheme, with both red and green versions. The cards were numbered to 50, with the green PMGs comprising the first ten cards and the red version occupying the remaining 40 cards. The full set includes 100 cards and this would be the last NBA-licensed basketball edition.
The PMG concept was once again left off the rotation for several years until it came back as a 40-card insert in 2011-12 Fleer Retro Basketball. The design was a direct throwback to the 1997-98 Metal Universe Basketball Precious Metal Gems, except with a college theme. A Blue parallel, numbered to 50 was added to the mix, to go along with Red (#/150) and Green (#/10). View a complete guide here.
The PMG name was back again in 2012-13 Fleer Retro Basketball. Rather than copying the previous year of Retro, two separate insert sets each paid homage to the early years of Precious Metal Gems. The 50-card 97-98 version used the 1997-98 Metal Universe Championship PMG design and was numbered to 100.
Also featuring 50 cards, the 98-99 version borrowed the 1998-99 Metal Universe Basketball design. This edition of Precious Metal Gems is slightly more rare, with a print run of 50.
While it is not part of a parallel or insert set, a variant Michael Jordan PMG was included in the 2013 Upper Deck Michael Jordan Master Collection. Featuring both a Red (#/100) and Green (#/10) version, the design is the same as the PMGs found in 2011-12 Fleer Retro. The only difference is that a new image of Jordan was used .
While 1997-98 Metal Universe Basketball PMGs have emerged as a very valuable collectible, 1997 Metal Universe Football followed the same basic formula, but did not seem to enjoy the same demand or value. Part of this is due to the extreme interest in late-90's basketball cards from high-end collectors. Also, there are simply a lot more of the football counterparts. With a checklist of 198 cards, minus checklists, and a total print run of 150, the cards were more common, and were found 1:48 packs. Similar to the basketball version, the base Red version comprised 90% (135 cards) of the print run, while Green represented the remaining 10% (15 cards). Additionally, there are versions that have emerged which are not serially numbered.
Although the checklist remained large with 200 cards, the total cards greatly decreased as the PMG parallel only had a print run of 50 cards in 1998 Metal Universe Football. Like 1998-99 Metal Universe Basketball, the design shifted away from the colored foil of the previous year and went with a Refractor finish. This time, the PMGs were a full parallel as checklists were included in the set. The product also includes a PMG Masters (1/1) parallel.
The final edition of original PMGs in football would see the checklist expand to 250 cards in 1999 Metal Universe Football. Again, base cards were numbered to 50 and there was also a one-of-one PMG Masters parallel. Like 1998 Metal Universe Football, checklists were included in the parallel set
Based on the success of Precious Metal Gems in 2011-12 Fleer Retro Basketball, Upper Deck rolled out PMG inserts in 2012 Fleer Retro Football. Following the exact same format as the basketball set, Red (#/150), Blue (#/50), and Green (#/10) versions were made available for the 100-card set. View a complete guide here.
The last of the three sports included in the original run, baseball joined basketball and football with PMG parallels in the second edition. Checklists were omitted, resulting in a 217-card partial parallel. The colorful Precious Metal Gems were numbered to 50 and only found in hobby packs. However, only the first 45 of each card were included in packs. The remaining five were held back for the Ultimate Gems exchange program.
Featuring the same design as 1999 Metal Universe Football, 1999 Metal Universe Baseball includes a full 300-card parallel of Precious Metal Gems. The cards are numbered to 50 and are only found in hobby packs.
Baseball collectors had to wait a few more years after Upper Deck added PMGs to their basketball and football before Precious Metal Gems returned. The very first option came from the 2013 Industry Summit as an exclusive giveaway. Mike Trout is the only player included, with Red (#/100), Blue (#/50), and Green (#/10) versions. 2013 Fleer Retro Baseball is expected to release at the end of 2013, and will include a full release of baseball PMGs.
Despite never having appeared in the original run, hockey cards got the PMG-treatment in 2012-13 Fleer Retro Hockey. The insert set includes 60 cards, with Red (#/100), Blue (#/50), and Green (#/10) PMGs.
Many jobs have perks, but surely most are not this fun. As a gift to their employees, Upper Deck provided a selection of purple PMGs featuring six athletes from a variety of sports. The cards are numbered to 125 and marked the first time that purple was incorporated into the design, although Upper Deck classified them as pink. View a complete guide here.
2013 Metal Universe Employee Exclusive Rory McIlroy Precious Gems 125 BGS
Not just limited to sports, some of the greatest superheroes in Marvel history were featured in a Precious Metal Gems insert in 2013 Fleer Retro Marvel. The full insert set totals 42 cards and includes the now-familiar Red (#/100), Blue (#/50) and Green (#/10) options. View a full guide here.
The list below provides a real-time look at the 20 most-watched Precious Metal Gems cards currently available on eBay. The list is constantly updating to give collectors the most accurate picture of the most popular cards on eBay.