Gold has been one of the most sought after metals in the history of mankind and its beauty has been prized since it was first discovered in ancient times. It is one of the most common precious metals in jewelry making and for a longtime has been used in currency and coin making. Throughout history it has served as a symbol of wealth and has been used by Kings, Queens and other leaders to demonstrate their high status. Some of the interesting facts about this precious metal include the following.
The measure of gold is the carat with 10, 14, 18 and 24 carat gold being typical measures in jewelry. 24 carat gold is 99.9 percent pure with the others being a mixture of gold and other metals. Originally the carat was a measure that was based on the carob seed. This was used as a measure by ancient merchants.
One of the oldest maps in existence is called the Turin Papyrus Map. It shows the location of a gold mine that was located in Nubia in the southern part of Egypt. This has been one of the major gold producing locations throughout history.
Most people have heard to some extent of the legend of Jason and the Golden Fleece. However the legend may have come from the ancient practice of using a fleece to try and capture gold dust from placer deposits. Placer deposits typically form in water at sites where the water velocity is not fast enough to move denser material such as gold which sinks to the stream or river bed.
The gold rushes of the 19th century have gone down in folklore. They happened at numerous locations whenever large deposits of gold were found. Most famously this happened along the Klondike River in the Yukon in the late 1800’s although other gold rushes occurred in California, the Black Hills of Dakota and Colorado.
In history there have been many alchemists who tried to make gold from other metals including lead. Although they never actually succeeded in doing this they did stimulate interest in the use of common chemicals and metals which was one of the precursors of modern day chemistry.
It has been estimated that almost 75% of all the gold ever mined has been done so since around 1910. If all the gold that has ever been refined were collected together it is estimated that it would form a cube with a side length of around 20m.
The European exploration of the American continent was spurred on by the stories of large gold deposits and the gold artifacts created by the native populations. The most well remembered of these conquests was the Spanish conquistadors who travelled to the land of the Aztecs and Incas in South America. The Aztecs were famous for their gold and believed that it was formed by the gods and the literal translation of their word for gold is ‘God Excrement’!
Although gold has been typically mined from land deposits and in rivers, it is estimated that the world’s oceans hold about eight times the total quantity of gold that has been mined to date. However it is said that the cost of extracting this gold would be more than the gold is actually worth. It would not be a very practical thing to do therefore.
The largest gold nugget found in recorded history was given the name “Welcome Stranger”. It was found in Victoria, Australia and weighed in at an incredible 78 kilograms. It was melted down to produce a total of 71 kilograms of pure gold.
These days the legend of Eldorado revolves around a lost city of gold. However in ancient times the legend was based around the Andean Muisca nation. It was believed to refer to a ritual in which the chief of the nation covered himself in gold dust and made gold offerings into a mountain lake.
Gold is a soft metal and it is possible to hammer it so thin that the rays of the sun can shine through it. The visors of the helmets that astronauts wear into space are coated with an ultra fine layer of gold so thin that it can be seen through. However this thin layer can help to reduce both the glare and heat of the sun.
Fool’s gold has typically confused gold hunters ever since the metal has been mined. The way to tell the difference is supposedly to rub white porcelain on it. The mineral powder of the real thing is yellow while that of the fool’s variety is black.
Gold is a beautiful metal that can be fashioned into some beautiful jewelry pieces. It has been a prized possession of many for thousands of years and will continue to be so in the future. If you are lucky enough to own some, take the time to enjoy it.