Facts about Gold

Jana Louise Smit's image for:
"Facts about Gold"
Image by: 

When one look at gold, one is observing a precious metal that cannot rust, show signs of oxidizing or deteriorate and blemish. Given, gold can be dissolved in certain liquid mixtures but by natural standards, it remains virtually indestructible. In spite of that, this tough metal is so versatile; it can be made into a delicate gold thread and used normally in embroidery work. If such a thread weighed an ounce, it can be worked into a golden string fifty miles long. That same ounce can also be panel beaten into a flat sheet of nearly a hundred square feet.

The oceans remain the largest deposit field of gold on earth which requires scientific expertise to recover. Presently, this means that to extract the precious metal is a process more costly than the gold is actually worth. If all the gold ever mined was melted down into a block, the cube would measure 65.5 feet and forty percent of it would be South African bullion. The star nugget, however, was found in Victoria, Australia. Named the "Welcome Stranger", it tipped the scales at 78 kilograms.

Gold comes in a variety of colours. The metal is available in white, pink, green, purpleamethyst, blue, black, yellow and grey. These colours are produced when gold forms an alloy with a different metal. The naturally occuring alloy of gold and silver is called electrum. Pure gold is not magnetic but when it is placed inside a magnetic field and as long as it remains within it, will show slight magnetic abilities.

A mere 10 percent of gold is used in the financial world. Even though an annual amount of over 600 tons are commissioned for technology such as information, communication, medical procedures and industrial purposes, it still only accounts for about 12 percent of gold use. The bulk of gold consumption goes to the jewellery business at 78-80 percent. The use of gold in science and progress is invaluable. For more than three quarters of a century special forms of gold based drugs have been employed against rheumatoid arthritis and prostate cancer. Gold also conducts electricity and thermal energy and when of high-purity grade, the precious metal deflects infrared energy and radiation. For that purpose, the visors of astronauts are coated with a transparent film of gold to protect their eyes from the dangers of sunlight in space.

Gold has been eaten for centuries. The earliest records show that this possibly started in the Middle Ages amongst the elite classes as a gross symbol of their wealth. Today, it is mostly used by chocolatiers and producers of fancy alcoholic drinks. Gold is a permissible food coloring (e-number: E175) and can be placed on dishes as either gold leaf or as a liquid decoration. A small amount of gold dust is allowed in premium marmalade brands to give it a glittering and elite aura. While gold is biologically inert and the human body doesn't absorb it easily, too much consumption is toxic.

Olympians have received pure gold medals for quite some time, but this was stopped after the games of 1912. Today, the standard calls for Olympic gold medals to be plated with six grams of gold only.

Is there anything out there more valuable than gold? Certainly. Pure aluminum ranks above gold in value and so does platinum. Gold even takes a back seat to silver because when it comes to industrial applications, silver has more use and is also growing in scarcity. Believe it or not, but during certain periods in history, salt was a more valuable commodity than the yellow metal and today, there are certain comic book editions which first sold for a few cents back in the day and are now collector's items worth a cool million. That is a return investment no metal can compete with.

More about this author: Jana Louise Smit

From Around the Web