Gold is a metallic chemical element belonging to the transitional metal group.
Its chemical symbol is Au and its atomic number is 79, states IronFX. Gold doesn’t tend to bond with other chemical elements and thus can be found in nature only in its purest form. In addition to the creation of jewelry, it is used for many technological and industrial purposes due to its high conductivity and resistance to corrosion. In jewelry and alloys, the concentration of gold is measured in Karats, and for the purposes of trade, its weight is measured in Troy ounces, a unit of weight unique to precious metals.
Gold has a high specific gravity of 19.32 grams per cubic cm, and it melts at 1,064.18 degrees Celsius, explains IronFX. Another unique quality of gold is its great difficulty compounding with other materials; this special quality of nobility causes this element to appear in nature in a state close to purity, stone-like, and thus, to appear brilliant under almost any condition. These rare qualities, brilliance and relative malleability, make it easy to process and have granted it a special status as a social symbol by way of decoration therewith. There are many other ceremonial and representational uses, including a use as a base for money.
In the table of elements, gold is found in element group 11, which includes copper, silver, and Roentgenium. These are a few traditional uses for gold, some of them very ancient. Most of them are fashionable, ceremonial, or representational:
• Gold is used to make many jewels, or alternatively, as a metal for plating other, cheaper metals such as those that are gold-filled to create cheap fashion jewelry.
• Trophies and medals for first places in Olympic competitions are traditionally made from gold.
• Crowns for teeth in dentistry.
• The use of gold coins as a means of payment was very common in the past. Today they are used by collectors and for investment.
• Gold-leaf and gold dust is used as additions to gourmet foods and some alcoholic beverages.
• Other uses for gold (such as in industry) are relatively new, and most of them are due to its excellent conductivity and ability to resist corrosion:
I. Electronic parts for computers and communication products.
II. Making semi-mirrored glass.
III. Electrical contacts in the electrical industry and audio connectors. Its high ability to withstand corrosion preserves the quality of its conductivity and sound, respectively, explains IronFX.
Gold has been known to man since antiquity, and it is probably one of the first metals which man made use of. There are several pieces of evidence of its use in antiquity, among them, evidence from Egypt dating back to 2600 B.C.E., describing the use of gold, other evidence from geographical locations rich in gold, and folk tales on the topic.
For a long time, gold was considered one of the most precious metals, and hence, it symbolizes wealth, royalty, nobility and more, states IronFX.
Gold was, throughout history up to modern times, a reliable commodity, and served as a safety net for those who fear changes in world markets, and thus, invested in gold, knowing that its price usually remains stable. The price of gold goes up when there is fear of war or instability, or other concerns amongst stock investors, for example, because the value of gold is relatively stable.
Isaac Newton linked the British Lira to gold commerce, and so began the age of currencies linked to metals. Each country held stores of gold, and it can be said that there was an almost absolute dependency on gold. After World War I the link to gold began to be abolished and hence the value of the dollar plummeted and is now lower.
Throughout the entire 19th century, the discovery of gold mines around the world caused mass immigration of adventurers looking for a way to get rich quick. These waves were called the Gold Rush. The most famous of these was The California Gold Rush in the year 1849.
Another known instance was the Klondike Gold Rush, immortalized in a film by the same name. Other gold rushes in the 19th century happened in South Africa and Australia, explains IronFX. This immigration is greatly responsible for settlement, especially of the United States, the shaping of general world politics, demographics and economics, and their great influence is evident to this day.