For thousands of years, mankind has been fascinated by gold and its unique properties. One of the first metals discovered (along with copper), gold was the property of pharaohs and referred to in the bible. Here are some more interesting facts about gold.
The word ‘gold’ is derived from the Anglo Saxon word ‘geolo’ (yellow).
Gold is a noble metal. This means it won’t oxidise, rust, corrode or tarnish. No single acid can dissolve or destroy Gold. This means that virtually all the gold ever discovered still exists today. Therefore, the gold in your wedding band or tooth filling may previously have been a Roman coin or even an ancient Egyptian artefact!
The chemical symbol for gold is ‘AU’. This comes from the Latin word ‘Aurum’, which means ’shining (or glowing) dawn’. Gold melts at a temperature of 1064 °C and boils at 2807 °C.
The atomic number for gold is 79 and its atomic mass is 196.96655 amu. A cubic centimetre of pure gold weighs 19.32 grams (0.6815 ounces, 0.6217 troy ounces). A cubic foot of gold weighs over half a metric ton (547,081 grams).
Gold is the most malleable metal. A single gram can be flattened to make a sheet 1 metre square (gold leaf). It can also be turned into thread and used in embroidery.
It is estimated that if all the gold ever mined were to be combined, it would measure around 20 cubic meters. Approximately 75% of all the world’s gold is privately owned and there is only about 50,000 tonnes of gold left yet to me mined (about one-third of what we already have).
Over 20 tons of waste rock is excavated to yield enough gold for just one wedding band. South Africa is the world’s largest producer of mined gold.
The world’s largest gold coin is the $1,000,000 Canadian Maple Leaf. Only 5 of these coins have been produced, each weighing a massive 100kg. Its purity is 99.999%, the purest gold available. On 25th June 2010, one of these coins sold at auction for 3.27 million Euros (4.02 million US Dollars / 2.6 million UK Pounds).
To alter the colour of gold and to make it more hard wearing, gold is alloyed with a range of other metals including silver, copper, zinc and nickel. Gold purity is measured in carats with 24 being the purest. The term ‘carat’ is derived from the carob bean which was used as a weight measure by middle eastern merchants. Gemstones are still weighed in carats with 1 carat being the equivalent of 0.2 grams.
The standards for gold fineness (purity) varies around the world. Some common fineness standards are:
Interesting facts about gold hallmarking
In 1238, King Henry III instructed the Mayor of London to appoint six trusted goldsmiths to be responsible for ensuring the purity of gold and silver items. By 1478, the Goldsmith’s Guild had appointed a paid Assayer, requiring all makers to take their completed work to Goldsmith’s Hall to be tested and marked. The term ‘Hall Mark’ was born and the practice continues to this day.
In many countries, it is a legal requirement all items made of gold is hallmarked.
If you have a piece of UK hallmarked gold, try our hallmark identification wizard.
Interesting facts about gold medals and the Olympics
Gold medals were first awarded at the Olympics in 1904. 13 kilograms of gold were used in the production of the 2008 Beijing Olymipics. An Olympic gold medal is actually a sterling silver medal, plated with 6 grams of 24 carat gold. Lorentz Medals are solid gold, as are the US Congressional Gold Medal and the Nobel Prize medal.
Unusual facts about gold usage
Gold flakes can be found in a number of spirit based drinks, the most notable being Goldschläger – a Swiss cinnamon schnapps. Food stuffs that include gold flake include chocolate, sweets and jelly.
Elvis Presley owned three Stutz cars where all chrome fittings were replaced with solid gold ones.
Interesting facts about scrap gold
At least 15% of our gold stock is recycled every year. Recycling unwanted scrap gold is far less environmentally damaging than mining fresh ore.
Gold-Traders is a leading purchaser of scrap gold in the UK and offers same day payment direct to customer bank accounts for broken gold jewellery, coins and gold bullion. Our online gold calculator will give an instant valuation for your unwanted gold.
For more information on selling scrap gold, please call Gold-Traders (UK) Ltd on 01793 230 331.