For thousands of years, gold was primarily utilized to make jewelry, because it is—among the precious metals—a valuable, rare earth mineral that is malleable in nature. While the precious yellow metal is still abundantly used to make gold jewelry, a shift occurred in roughly 1500 BC, when the ancient Egyptian empire, which benefited tremendously from its gold-bearing area of Nubia, established gold as the first recognized medium of exchange for international trade.
Because of its rare quality, it has historically been a particularly expensive metal and has been used as a means of both trade and money as well as a store of value. While gold is often utilized in the manufacture of jewelry, it is also quite valuable in industrial applications.
Malleability of Gold
Because gold is malleable, it may be shaped into exceedingly thin sheets, which can then be used to make jewelry, as well as decorative aspects used in interior design. Gold leafing, often known as gilding, is a centuries-old process. Traditional artists pounded raw gold between leather pieces until it was nearly too thin to see. One ounce gold may be hammered thin enough to cover an area larger than 9 square meters (96.9 square feet).
Ductile Property of Gold
The ductility of gold is also exceptional (something is ductile when it is capable of being drawn out as a wire under tension without breaking.) 80 kilometers (50 miles) of thin gold wire, five microns thick, can be pulled out of one ounce of gold.
Softness of Gold
Pure gold is also an extremely soft metal. If you want to use it as currency or jewelry, you’ll need to be careful since it is easily scratched. Alloys are used as balancing metals in gold jewelry because pure gold is too brittle to endure normal wear and tear. That is why most jewelry is either 14k or 18k gold with some also being made in 22k gold. Rarely, will you find a pure 24k gold piece because the metal is simply too soft. Silver, copper, nickel, and zinc are all used in these alloys. As such, a 14k gold jewelry item is 14 of 24 parts pure gold (58.3%), whereas 18k is 18 of 24 parts (75%) and 22k is 22 of 24 parts (91.6%). In jewelry use, gram weights are often used to determine the weight of items, whereas when considering the market price of raw gold ounces are used.
Gold as Investment
Gold has been traditionally viewed as not only a long term store of value for investors who wish to preserve their capital, but also as a hedge against rising inflation. As the U.S. dollar weakens with inflation, gold prices tend to rise, as people move away from fiat into safer investments like gold, stocks or even cryptocurrency for those with a riskier appetite. Some also increase their retail purchases of gold jewelry as the yellow precious begins to rise in value or is perceived as about to rise.
Following are some interesting facts about Gold:
- The atomic number of Gold is 79, and the atomic mass is 196.96655 amu.
- Gold does not rust and is the most non-reactive of all the metals.
- Gold is not affected by heat, air, or moisture. It is chemically inactive.
- The first gold coins were introduced in 700 BC
- Today, in the United States and around the world, the American Eagle Gold Coin is among the most popular minted coins in existence. In Canada, you have the Maple leaf coin, in Switzerland, there is the gold bar or the Credit Suisse.
- There is no such thing as “white gold”. All gold is yellow in its raw form. In order to create a white version of the metal, base alloys like nickel are added as the balancing metal to create a somewhat white color and then the jewelry is rhodium-plated for a shiny, white sheen which mimics the look of platinum.
- There are 31.10348 grams in a Troy Ounce.
Uses of Gold in the Real World
Gold has long been used to make coins and other forms of currency. The most common application of gold in the world is in the form of jewelry and other ornamental retail products and accessories. When it comes to electrical conductivity and heat resistance, gold tops the list. Physically, it is a malleable metal that can be stretched or plated into thin layers with relative ease. In electronics, gold is ideal for use in cables and connections because of these reasons.
Gold has also long been utilized in dentistry and medicine due to its non-reactive and non-toxic properties. Longevity is critical in prosthetics, and new uses are found every year. Rheumatoid arthritis and muscle damage are treated with small doses of gold injections, and certain tumors are treated with gold micro-particles.
Whether your interest in the yellow metals lies in gold jewelry or the pure mineral as bullion in its raw form or whether you have been drawn to the precious metal as a long term investment or simply for its beautiful and aesthetic qualities, gold will always remain rare, precious, intrinsically valuable in all its applications and will, therefore, remain a highly-sought after commodity.