Gold has a long and storied history of obsession for over 6,000 years. For reasons unknown, gold’s mysterious ability to attract people all over the world independently of each other allowed it to become a medium of exchange accepted anywhere in the world.
Gold has been used to make ornamental objects and fine jewelry for thousands of years. Today, up to 80 per cent of the gold that is newly mined or recycled is used in jewelry manufacture. One reason the lustrous metal is such a popular jewelry choice is because of its malleable properties – it can be drawn into wires, hammered into sheets and/or cast into shapes. Pure gold, which is very soft, is known as 24 karat gold. It has to be forged with other metals such as copper, silver and platinum to increase its durability.
Gold doesn’t just signify jewelry value – it has also long been used as a medium of exchange or money. The first known use of gold in transactions dates back more than 6000 years – gold coins were minted under the order of King Croesus of Lydia (a region of present-day Turkey) in about 560 BC. The rarity, usefulness and desirability of gold make it a substance of high value, plus it’s durable, portable and easily divisible. Today, many governments, individuals and institutions hold investments of gold in the convenient form of bullion.
Mobile phones contain about 0.034g of gold. Arguably the most important industrial use of gold is in the manufacture of electronics. Gold is a highly efficient conductor which can carry tiny currents and remain corrosion-free. It is used in connectors, switch and relay contacts, soldered joints, connecting wires and connection strips. What’s more, aside from your trusty smart phone, you’ll find gold in calculators and most large electronic appliances – even your standard desktop or laptop computer and your TV.
Gold truly is a metal of the future – look no further than its use in aerospace. If you are going to spend billions on a space vehicle that, when launched, will travel on a voyage where the possibility of lubrication, maintenance and repair is absolutely zero, then building it with extremely dependable materials is paramount. This is exactly why NASA uses gold in hundreds of ways in every space vehicle it launches. Clearly, gold’s importance as a multi-use metal cannot be overstated.
From the very first time that mankind laid eyes on gold, it has led to an insatiable desire for the metal that has never wavered. And, since the end of the gold standard the price and production of gold has skyrocketed globally and along with it, so has demand.