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My Precious

Gollum from Lord of the Rings was onto something when he called the Ring “my precious.”Gold is one of the most precious metals found, its history dating back to the beginning of creation. Gold is found naturally in the veins of quartz and other alluvial deposits. It is a rare metallic element that can be found with a combination of other metals or in a free state.

Gold is a transitional metal with a metallic yellow appearance. It is soft, malleable and can be easily melted, chiselled, carved or hammered into any shape.Gold Today cites the following: “Chemically, gold does not react with most chemicals, but is affected by chlorine, fluorine, aqua regia and cyanide. Gold dissolves in mercury, forming amalgam alloys, but does not react with it. Gold is insoluble in nitric acid, which will dissolve silver and base metals, and this is the basis of the gold refining technique known as "inquartation and parting". Nitric acid has long been used to confirm the presence of gold in items, and is the origin of the colloquial term "acid test," referring to a gold standard test for genuine value.”

More Than Just A Pretty Face

We all know that gold is used in jewellery making and goes hand-in-hand with diamonds. Its uses include:
  • Monetary exchange – early printings of paper money had a gold backing and formed part of the American “gold standard” but it became too cumbersome to control and was replaced by gold bars known as gold bullion. Gold coins where used as early as 560 BC and today are kept as commemorative memorabilia and collectables.
  • Electronics - it is a highly efficient conductor that can carry tiny currents and remain free of corrosion. Gold is used in connectors and electrical contacts and switches, soldered joints, electrical wiring and connection strips. It is extensively used as a conductor in mobile phones.
  • Dentistry – gold has been used as a filling since 700 BC but rapidly declined in the early 1970’s due to rising costs. It is making a comeback though with dentists reintroducing it to the community due to its reliable usage.
  • Industry –gold is used for soldering jewellery. It is used as a protective coating for artificial satellites and as a reflector of electromagnetic radiation. Some aircraft cockpit windows are laced with gold as an anti-icing mechanism.
  • Glassmaking – gold can be used as a pigment in glass, just a small amount of gold will produce a rich ruby colour. When gold is dispersed into glass it becomes a reflector and is used in astronaut’s helmets and in climate controlled windows.
  • Decoration – gold can be thinned into embroidery thread or even used as gold leaf or gold dust for cake decorations.
  • Medical – gold is used as a drug to treat some forms of cancer and rheumatoid arthritis. It is used in life-support machines and electronic equipment.

Where Is Gold Produced?

China is the world’s largest gold producer, overtaking South Africa’s 128-year reign. The United States, Australia, Russia and Peru are the other major producers of gold. Picture courtesy of Wikipedia

Forever Precious

Gold is undoubtedly the most precious metal found in the Earth’s crust, most commonly in quartz rocks. Almost every culture has treasured gold, seeing it as a symbol of great prosperity and wealth. With its abundant uses and high dollar value gold is sure to remain forever precious.

If you would like to learn more about minerals and mining visit our Mining and Metals page.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

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