By Jacque Scott
Anyone out there know why gold is valuable? A little research gives some insight and answers to some of our questions. For thousands of years people have believed that this bright, heavy, soft, yellow metal has a value all of its own. As a result medieval chemists struggled to find a formula that would turn more basic substances into gold.
In 1450, Bernard of Treves thought he had found the answer. He added equal parts of olive oil and vitriol to the yolks of 2,000 eggs and cooked the whole pot of goo for two weeks. Of course he failed. Other royal seekers such as Heraelius of Byzantine, James IV of Scotland, and Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II also failed in their attempts to make gold. Even Charles II of England had a secret laboratory under the floor in his bedroom where he tried to make gold. He must have been very disappointed….
Isaac Newton became the master of the British Mint in the 1700’s. But the idea of the ‘gold standard’, which was paper money redeemable in gold, was not widely adopted until the 19th century when the ‘Age of Gold’ was ushered in with the gold strikes in California, Australia and South Africa. By 1873 there were nine countries on the gold standard and by 1912, forty-nine countries used notes redeemable in gold due to the increased supply of the precious metal.
The world wide gold standard was disrupted by the huge debts brought about by Word War I. Many countries returned to the monetary system based on gold, but there was a problem making the actual amount of gold held equal the face value of the paper notes in circulation. Finally in 1931, Great Britain abandoned the gold standard and the United States followed in 1933.
Gold’s drawing power has not changed since its separation from most currency systems. Most people believe that if their national currency depreciates, the gold they own will still keep its value. However in 1975, Americans were given the chance to legally buy gold bullion bars and ignored the opportunity. But just a year later, the public woke up to the possibilities of a profit and gold prices have gone up and down ever since.
Aside from monetary uses, gold has many other uses. It is almost indestructible and never tarnishes. It conducts electricity and is used in some expensive electrical circuits. Since it is soft, gold can be hammered wafer thin or melted to cover a variety of things. One ounce can make a sheet nearly 100 square feet. Although he didn’t do it, Lenin had an idea to plate public restrooms with gold. The first American to walk in space was connected to his Gemini vehicle by a golden umbilical cord designed to stop radiation.
Gold is still a symbol of power, prestige, and permanence. There is an ancient Greek legend that says that gold was created by Zeus to make it the perfect metal to adorn temples and please Gods. In Japan, visitors have paid great sums of money to sit in golden tubs for as little as two minutes, because the belief is that he or she will gain at least three more years of life.
Gold is one of the few elements you can find just lying on the ground. A one-ounce nugget of pure gold was found in Alaska in 1890 by Hogamorth Marion, when he was on a trip to sell shoes to Eskimos. True fact…
The wonder of gold is that no matter how cheap, no matter how thin the plating, it’s still gold, and gold is beautiful. We can find gold plated jewelry in the small stores or kiosks of any mall across America. But gold is gold.
Did you know that there is something actually called ‘purple gold’? Purple gold is a strange thing indeed. It is composed of gold and aluminum, but it’s not an alloy. It is instead a compound of definite proportions. Known as an intermetallic compound, the bond between gold and aluminum atoms is weakly ionic.
Sometimes, people find that re-cycling is just too time consuming for too little reward. Not so with gold. It’s so expensive, and so easy to recycle, that virtually none of it goes to waste. If you die with it in your teeth, chances are you won’t go to your grave with it. Old circuit boards with gold-plated contacts are sold for real money to people who strip and recycle the gold.
And of course jewelers never, ever, throw away anything! The smallest scraps are carefully collected and either reused to repair another piece, or sent off to refiners who separate out any alloying elements (typically silver, copper, or platinum) and return the pure gold to circulation. I don’t know the exact figure, probably no one does, but I would wager that a very large fraction of the total amount of gold that has ever been mined in the history of the world is still in circulation today,
|Chances are very slim that humans will lose their fascination with gold. Gold is what we make it—-
valuable. So there you have it, a little about gold. God bless you.