Learn About Gold
Gold, as an element, is a dense, shiny, deep yellow precious metal. It has several qualities that have made it valuable throughout history, both as a medium of exchange and for decorative use in jewelry. It is attractive in color and brightness it is so durable it's practically indestructible. Gold is also rare and usually found in nature in a relatively pure form. Gold is the most malleable and ductile of metals. It may be beaten into gold leaf as thin as 4 millionths of an inch - an ounce can be beaten out to 187 square feet. An ounce of gold can also be drawn into a wire more than 40 miles long.
Know your Gold
Gold is a conductor of electricity, though not as good as silver or copper. Gold is the noblest of the "noble metals" – (gold, platinum, palladium and rhodium) so called because of their inertness, or reluctance to enter into chemical reactions. It will not combine directly with oxygen nor will it react with common acids. Gold is, however, attacked by a 3-to-1 mixture of hydrochloric and nitric acids. This reagent is called aqua regia (Latin for royal water) because it reacts with the so-called royal metal.
In jewelry, gold is commonly alloyed with other metals in proportions that yield desired hardnesses and colors. An alloy of gold, silver, and copper, in which the amounts of silver predominates, is called "green gold." An alloy of the same three elements in which copper predominates is called "red gold." An alloy of gold and nickel is called "white gold."
The purity of gold is expressed in karats (kt), on a scale of 24, or in fineness, on a scale of 1,000. Pure gold is 24 karat, or 1,000 fine. An alloy containing 75 percent gold would be described as 18-karat gold or 750 fine.
A child finds a shiny rock in a creek, thousands of years ago, and the human race is introduced to gold for the first time. Gold was first discovered as shining yellow nuggets. No doubt it was the first metal known to early hominids. Gold became a part of every human culture. It's brilliance, natural beauty, and luster and its great malleability and resistance to tarnish made it enjoyable to work and play with.
Gold was the first metal widely known to our species. When thinking about the historical progress of technology, we consider the development of iron and copper-working as the greatest contributions to our species' economic and cultural progress - but gold came first.
Gold's early uses were no doubt ornamental, and it's brilliance and permanence linked it to deities and royalty in early civilizations. The earliest history of human interaction with gold is long lost to us, but it's association with the gods, with immortality, and with wealth itself are very common to many cultures throughout the world. Gold, beauty, and power have always gone together. Gold in ancient times was made into shrines and idols, plates, cups, vases, and vessels of all kinds, and of course jewelry for personal adornment.
Gold has always had value to humans, even before it was money. This is demonstrated by the extraordinary efforts made to obtain it. In the quest for gold by the Phoenicians, Egyptians, Indians, Chinese and others, prisoners of war were sent to work in mines, as were slaves and criminals. This happened during a time when gold has no value as 'money' but was just considered a desirable commodity in and of itself.
The 'value' of gold was accepted all over the world. Today, as in ancient times, the intrinsic appeal of gold itself has that universal appeal to humans.