7 Interesting Facts About Gold
Gold is the most widely used jewelry material in the world. In Asian countries, especially India, China, Thailand and Malaysia, no wedding takes place without gold jewelry. In most parts of the world, the engagement ring is usually made of gold and not diamond. During weddings and cultural events, women both young and old can be seen bedecked in gold from head to the toes. In the West, gold is valued more as an investment tool than for jewelry.
Why is gold so popular? For one thing, it's a rare metal, which also happens to be highly non-reactive. The world has a limited stock of gold and most of what we have today was mined within the last century. But the main reason it is popular is its color and luster. Gold is simply beautiful - whether worn on a woman's body or just lying in a showcase. No other metal can match the beauty of gold.
Here are 7 interesting facts about gold that you probably did not know:
1. Over 174,000 tons of gold has been mined so far
It is estimated that a total of 174,000 tons of gold have been mined so far in history. This is roughly equivalent to 5.6 billion troy ounces. About 50% of this has been used in jewelry, 40% saved (and traded) as investments and 10% in industry. There is still more gold under the ground and in the oceans. About 50 million troy ounces of gold are mined every year. It is believed that the waters of the oceans hold 20 million tons of gold. However, it is so dilute (each liter contains only about 13 billionth of a gram) that mining gold from seawater is not economically viable.
2. Gold used to be the primary form of money in the past
Gold used to be the primary form of money throughout the world in the past. The oldest gold coin in existence dates back to 6th century BC and it was used in Anatolia. However, it is believed that gold has been used as money since the Bronze Age. It was the standard currency for trade and commerce until the early 20th century. It was only after the Great Depression of the 1930s that the United States and then most of the world stopped making gold coins as money.
3. Most of the gold we use comes from outer space
Gold is one of the heaviest metals in the universe (a cubic meter weighs 19,000 kilograms) and most of earth's natural gold has sunk deep inside the planet - down to the very core. But most of the gold we have was not created on earth. Along with other heavy metals, gold is created during the formation of stars. It took a piggy-ride on meteorites and asteroids that fell to earth in the past and falling even now. Thus, most of the gold we use is not of earthly origin but of alien origin.
4. Gold dissolves in some acids and alkaline solutions
Gold is one of the most non-reactive metals found on earth and it resistant to attacks by individual acids. This makes is perfect for making jewelries and for using as currency. However, it does react with some acids and alkaline. It dissolves in nitro-hydrochloric acid, which is known as aqua regia because of its gold dissolving property. It also dissolves in alkaline solutions of cyanide, which is used in mining. It also dissolves in mercury.
5. Gold is the most malleable metal found on earth:
Of all the metals found on earth, and possibly the entire universe, gold is the most malleable. A gram of gold can be beaten into a sheet that can reach an area of 1 square meter. Gold leaf can be beaten so thin that it can become almost transparent. It is so malleable that pure gold can be easily bent and twisted by hand. For this reason, pure gold is not considered suitable for jewelry.
6. The presence of gold in an alloy can be confirmed by dipping it in nitric acid:
Gold is insoluble in nitric acid, a powerful acid that dissolves silver and base metals. Thus, you can easily confirm the presence of gold in an alloy (or vice versa) by dipping it in nitric acid. This is the reason this process is called the acid test.
7. Gold used in jewelry is usually not pure gold:
Pure gold, which is called 24K gold, is so soft and malleable that it is practically useless as jewelry because it changes shape easily. Therefore, it is usually alloyed with base metals such as copper, nickel, zinc, silver and palladium. 23k gold is 95.83% pure, 22k gold is 91.66% pure, 18k gold is 75% pure and 14k gold is 58.33 pure. Even 24k gold, which is called pure gold, contains some impurities and is 99.99% pure.
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