Gold has been valued by human kind for millennia. It is a dense yet soft metal that made it easy for ancient humans to craft into statues and jewelry. Its alluring, bright yellow color and lustrous shine made it an ideal form of currency in that everyone wanted it. The rarity of gold kept its value high despite the discovery of new sources of the precious metal time and time again throughout history. The versatility of gold is quite impressive in that it is so malleable that it can be flattened 100 times thinner than the average piece of paper or drawn out into super thin wire that lends itself well to the electronics industry. Gold is valuable enough that recycling programs have been started to retrieve the minute amounts of the metal from electronic devices. Regardless of how gold is used, whether it be decorative jewelry or electronics, the demand is unlikely to ever diminish. That is unless alchemists finally figure out how to change lead into gold.
Know Your Gold
Gold will conduct electricity, though it does resist the passing of electrons more so than silver and copper. It is an elite member of the "noble metals." This means that it will not readily corrode, oxidize, or partake in many chemical reactions. There are few substances on their own that can affect gold, but if you combine 3 parts hydrochloric acid with 1 part nitric acid, gold will finally give up the fight. The jewelry industry today commonly uses gold in various alloy forms. Combine gold, silver, and copper and you will get "green gold" if there is a higher amount of silver. Red gold is created in the same way, but it contains more copper. White gold has gained in popularity and is a gold and nickel alloy. There are 2 scales that gold can be measured: Karats, in which 24 is the purest form, and a fineness scale where 1000 is the top. Both scales ultimately measure just how pure the gold is. For instance, if 24 karat gold is 100% pure, 18 karat would be 75% pure.
Since some of the earliest empires such as the Egyptians, Assyrians, Minoans, and Etruscans, gold has been used both creatively and as a form of trade currency. The malleability of gold let their artisans craft intricate creations and jewelry without advanced scientific methods or tools. Many of these works of art have survived millennia and now find themselves in museums across the globe.
Gold has historically motivated politics, wars, and even the exploration of our planet. Julius Caesar and Alexander the Great lead their conquests in search of wealth in the form of gold just as much as the allure of power. Columbus and Magellan both hoped their explorations would yield new discoveries of gold in addition to the uncharted world just over the horizon. The gold rush in the old west drew thousands into a wild and untamed land with the hopes of striking gold. Alchemists struggled for years to find the secret to transforming lead into gold. They failed, but their endeavors lead to a more complete understanding of what we know as chemistry today.
Gold's physical properties in addition to its rarity made it valuable enough to be universally accepted for trade purposes. At one time there was the "gold standard" which dictated that nations could only print or mint their national currency to the amount of their gold reserve and no more. That practice ended decades ago, but most countries still sit atop their gold reserves buried in heavily guarded vaults. Gold isn't generally accepted for everyday purchases, but it is not uncommon for gold to be used in international transactions.
The time of striking gold has ended as most easily accessible veins have been depleted, there is still gold being pulled from the planet. More so as by-products of other mining endeavors such as copper, lead, and zinc. It is possible that rich veins of gold exist deeper in the Earth's crust, but technologically speaking, it is out of our reach for now. There are estimations that there is only about 32,000 tons of gold that is realistically recoverable by economically viable methods. Unfortunately, any gold that may be within the core of Earth may never reach the surface and even if it did, it could take hundreds of thousands of years at the very least. Historically, dentistry and medicine have benefited from the use of gold due to its rather unique properties. Not to mention an increased usage in the industrial sector thanks to its anti-corrosive nature.
Despite having been around for a large part of humanity's past, it is just as relevant today as it was then. People will undoubtedly find new uses for it as well as continue to value it in its more creative form of jewelry.
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