Gold is the most useful mineral that has been extracted from the Earth. The variety of properties that make it useful are what give it its uniqueness. It conducts electricity and does not tarnish. Gold is also very easy to work with. Silver is a unique metal that holds a special place within the human mind.
Spanish explorers arrived in the “New World” and met the native people of South America. They had never met, spoke different languages, and lived completely different lives. They did have one thing in common: they held gold in high esteem and used it for some of their most valuable objects.
Every culture on the planet has used gold to represent power, beauty and achievement throughout its history. We still use gold today for the most important objects we have: wedding rings and Olympic medals. It is rarer than gold, and it holds a prominent spot in society.
For thousands of years, gold has been used in jewelry and ornamental objects. The gold nuggets that are found in streams are easy to use and probably the most common metal used by humans. Most of the new or recycled gold is used today in the production of jewelry. The manufacture of jewelry accounts for 78% of all the gold that is consumed annually.
Gold has many special properties that make it ideal for jewelry manufacturing. They include a high luster, desirable yellow color, and tarnish resistance. Also, they can be drawn into wires or hammered into sheets. These properties make it an attractive metal that can be easily crafted into beautiful objects. Tradition is another important reason to use gold as a jewellery metal. It is expected that important objects will be made of gold.
Pure gold is not strong enough to withstand the stress of many jewelry pieces. It was discovered by craftsmen that gold can be alloyed with other metals, such as copper and sterling. This would improve its durability. Most jewelry made from gold is now an alloy of one or more metals.
An alloy of gold has a lower weight per unit than pure gold. To identify the alloy’s gold content, a standard of trade called “karatage” has been created. 24 Karat gold is pure gold. It is almost always marked by “24K”. A 50%-total gold alloy is called 12 karat (or 24ths), and is marked with the “12K” 18 karat is an alloy that contains 75% of gold by weight. It’s marked with “18K”. High-karat jewelry tends to be more flexible and resistant to tarnish than low-karat, especially when it comes in direct contact with sweat.
The color of finished products can be altered by mixing gold with other metals (see illustration). A mixture of 75% gold and 16% sterling, as well as 9% cobalt, yields yellow-gold. White gold is an alloy made up of 75% yellow gold, 44% silver, 4% copper, and 17% palladium. Other alloys produce pink, green, peach, and even black-colored metallics.
Gold and Finance
Gold is highly valuable and has a very limited supply. This makes it a long-standing medium for money or exchange. Over 6000 years ago, transactions were the first to use gold. Transactions were made using either pieces of silver or pieces of gold. Its rarity, utility, and desireability make gold a long-lasting substance. This is because gold has a high price, it’s portable, durable, and can be easily divided. These values are estimates of gold production in metric tonnes. Data from USGS Mineral Commodity Summaries.
Early printings of paper money had gold safekeeping each unit of money. The United States used to have a “gold standard” in the past and kept a reserve of gold to back each paper dollar that was circulated.
Any person could use paper currency to present money to the government, and then demand gold in exchange. Although the gold standard was once popular among many countries, it became cumbersome and is not used anymore.
Gold bars, also known to be called “gold bullion”, were used most commonly as a form of financial backing for currency. Gold bars were a cost-effective way to keep manufacturing costs down and made it easy to store and handle. Many institutions, governments, and individuals now have gold investments in bullion.
In 560 BC, the first gold coins were issued under King Croesus (a region of current-day Turkey). In transactions, gold coins were used up until the early 1900s when paper currency was more popular. There were two types of gold coins. Some coins were issued in currency units, such dollars, and others in standard weights such as grams or ounces.
Nowadays, gold coins are not widely used for financial transactions. People still enjoy the option of purchasing small quantities of gold in limited weights. As “commemorative” items, gold coins can also be issued. These commemorative coins are popular because they offer both a collectible and precious metal value.
Electronics and Gold
Gold is used in electronics manufacturing, which is the most important industrial application of this metal. Solid state electronics use low voltages and currents that are easily interrupted by corrosion at the contact points. The most efficient conductor, gold, can carry these small currents while avoiding corrosion. High-quality electronic components made from gold are extremely reliable. Connectors, relay contacts, soldered joints and connecting wires are all made with gold.
Nearly every electronic device uses a small amount of gold. These devices include cell phones, calculators and personal digital assistants. Gold is also found in large electronic devices such as TV sets.
The loss of society is one of the problems with using small amounts of gold in small devices. Each year, nearly one billion cell phones are manufactured. Most of these phones contain approximately fifty cents of gold. They last an average of two years and are rarely recycled. Even though the gold content in each device is very small, it’s enough to make a lot of unrecycled jewelry.
Computers uses Gold as well
The standard laptop or desktop computer uses gold in many places. A reliable and efficient conductor is essential for the rapid transmission of digital information from one component to another. These requirements are met better by gold than any other metal. High quality and reliable performance are the reasons for gold’s high price.
All connectors that mount microprocessors and memory chips to the motherboard, as well as the connectors used for attaching cables to the motherboard, contain gold. These components are generally electroplated with other metals and then alloyed slightly with nickel or cobalt for greater durability.
Iron would work well as a filling for a tooth. It wouldn’t work very well. Your dentist would need blacksmithing equipment, your smile might be rusty within a few days, and you would have to adjust to the iron taste. Gold is used in dentistry even though it comes at a higher price. Its superior performance and aesthetic appeal make it a popular choice. For fillings and crowns, bridges, as well as orthodontic appliances, gold alloys can be used. Because it is nonallergenic and chemically inert, gold is an ideal choice for dentistry.
As far back as 700 B.C., gold was used in dentistry. Etruscan “dentists”, who used gold wire to fix replacement teeth in the mouths of patients, used it as a method of dentistry. It is possible that gold was used to fill cavities in the past. However, until just over 1000 years ago there was no archaeological or documentation.
Until the late 1970s, gold was used more liberally in dentistry. Substitute materials were developed because of the sharp rise in gold prices. The amount of gold used for dentistry is rising again. This is partly due to concerns that lower levels of inert metals could have a negative effect on long-term health.
Gold is used in Medicine
A small number of medical conditions can be treated with gold. Rheumatoid-associated arthritis can sometimes be treated with injections of weak sodium aurothiomalate and aurothioglucose solutions. To treat certain cancers, radioactive gold isotope particles are implanted into the tissues.
A small amount of gold can be used to treat lagophthalmos. This is a condition that causes a person to not be able to close their eyes fully. The treatment is to implant small amounts of gold on the upper eyelid. Implanted gold “weights” the eyelid and helps to close the eyelid fully.
Diagnostics are made using radioactive gold. It is injected into a colloidal solution, which can be followed as a beta emitter throughout the body. A small amount of gold is used in many medical instruments, electronic equipment, life-support devices, and other applications. The instruments are non-reactive and gold is very reliable in electronic equipment and life support devices.
It is crucial to use reliable materials if you plan on spending billions of dollars on a vehicle which, when launched, will travel on a journey where there is no possibility of maintenance or lubrication. NASA launches hundreds of space vehicles that use gold in a variety of ways.
Because it is a reliable conductor and connector, gold is often used in circuitry. Many parts of each space vehicle have gold-coated polyester films. This film reflects infrared radiation, stabilizing the spacecraft’s temperature. This coating would make it difficult for dark-colored parts of the spacecraft to absorb large amounts of heat.
Also, gold is used to lubricate mechanical parts. Organic lubricants will volatilize in the vacuum of space and would be destroyed by intense radiation beyond Earth’s atmosphere. The shear strength of gold is very low, so a thin layer of gold between the critical moving parts acts as a lubricant. This allows the gold molecules to slip past each other under friction and provides a lubricant effect.
Trophies, Awards and Symbols
What metal is used for the crown worn by a King? It is gold! This metal was chosen for its highest value because it is the most valuable. Even though steel is the strongest, it would not make sense to make a crown for a king out of it. Because gold is associated with the highest status and esteem, it is used in a crown for kings.
Many positive attributes are associated with gold. Gold is also associated with purity. Gold is the preferred metal for religious objects. For this reason, crosses, communion ware and other religious symbols made of gold are made.
In almost all types of contests, gold is used as the first-place trophy or medal. Gold medals are awarded to first-place winners in the Olympic Games. Gold awards are the Academy Awards Oscars. The Grammy Awards for Music are made from gold. These important achievements are recognized with gold awards.
Glass-making with Gold
There are many uses for gold in glass production. Glass-making’s most fundamental use is as a pigment. If a small amount of gold is added to the glass during annealing, it will give off a rich ruby-colored color.
Specialty glass is made from gold for climate-controlled buildings. A small amount of gold can be used to reflect solar radiation outside, or it can be coated on the glass surface. This will help the buildings keep cool in summer and warm in winter.
A thin gold film is applied to the helmet of an astronaut wearing a space suit. This thin coating reflects much space’s intense solar radiation, protecting astronaut’s eyes.
What is Gold Gliding and Gold Leaf?
Gold has the highest malleability of any metal. This enables gold to be beaten into sheets that are only a few millionths of an inch thick. These thin sheets, known as “gold leaf” can be applied over the irregular surfaces of picture frames, molding, or furniture.
Gold leaf is also used on the external and internal surfaces of buildings. This provides a durable and corrosion-resistant covering. One of the most eye-catching uses of gold leaf is on the domes of religious buildings and other important structures. The cost of this “roofing material” is very high per square foot; however, the cost of the gold is only a few percent of the total project cost. Most of the cost goes to the labor of highly skilled artisans who apply the gold leaf.
The Future of Gold
It is simply too costly to be used by chance. It is instead used with care and only when cheaper alternatives are not available. It is very rarely used for other metals once it has been found. This is why gold has seen a rise in popularity over the years.
The majority of ways gold can be used today were developed in the past two to three decades. This trend is likely to continue. Our society will continue to require more reliable and sophisticated materials. This will lead to an increase in the use of gold. The combination of growing demand and limited supply will result in gold’s importance and value steadily increasing over time. It is the metal of the future.
Manufacturers are constantly looking for ways to decrease the amount of gold needed to make an object, or to substitute a more expensive metal in its place. Base metals that are clad in gold alloys have been used for years to reduce the amount used in jewelry and other electrical connections. These products are continually being improved to reduce the amount required of gold and maintain their utility standards. The most popular substitutes for gold are palladium, silver, and platinum. They closely preserve its desirable properties.