What is gold?
Gold is a rare yellow metal with the designated symbol AU, which is short for the Latin word 'Aurum' and which means literally, "Glowing Dawn". The word gold, however, comes from the Indo-European root word and means simply, yellow.
Gold has a number of properties useful to man apart from it’s beauty and strange attractiveness for jewellery and coinage. It is an excellent conductor of electricity and is resistant to corrosion, not reacting to oxygen or water. It does not tarnish and does not cause reactions on skin for the vast majority of people. It has a melting point of 1064 degrees, a boiling point of 2808 centigrade and is a soft metal and very malleable compared to most metals.
Gold is measured in karats. These karats are rather different to the ones Bugs Bunny enjoys. A Karat is a unit of weight which was based on the carob seed or bean used by merchants in the middle east hundreds of years ago. The Carob seed is from the carob Tree and the Karat was used as a measure of the purity of gold. Gold is also measured in terms of fineness which is to say, parts per thousand. 24 Karat gold is considered to be 999.999 parts per thousand on the basis that there can never be a total and absolute purity of gold. 18 Karat is 18/24th or 750 parts per thousand, the other 250 parts being made up, usually, of copper, silver, zinc or bronze.
How much gold is there in the world?
Well, at the end of 2001, it is estimated that all the gold ever mined amounts to about 145,000 tonnes. Of course that would have increased by now but even so it is a lot of gold.
Perhaps that is not all there is to know about gold but it is a few interesting facts about the metal that we all cherish so dearly.