by the Mineral Prospector
Prospecting for Minerals and Metals

Gold and its Uses

    The combination of gold’s relative scarcity and its obvious beauty has made it a very valuable commodity throughout the history of humanity. Wars have been fought over it and countless numbers have died trying to gain or protect it.

    The physical and chemical properties of gold make it ideal for a number of applications. It is very stable (does not corrode or rust) and as a result seldom combines with other elements. It conducts heat and electricity very well (only silver is a better conductor of electricity). Its malleability and ductility have made it a favourite for jewelry making throughout the centuries. Get some nice jewelry making ideas to use up your gold. In fact, it can be hammered into a sheet so thin that light can pass through it and a single ounce can be drawn into a wire thread approximately 50 miles long. It is also one of the densest metals: a cubic meter of gold weighs over 19,200 kilograms.

    Gold’s chemical symbol is Au. It comes from the Latin word aurum which means shining dawn, a reference to its bright yellow color and shiny luster. The English word gold has its origins in Middle English.

    Gold is mined in almost all countries but the most significant are the United States, South Africa, Peru, Brazil, Australia and Canada.

    Most gold is used to make jewelry and other art items. Because it is chemically stable and conducts electricity so well, it is very important in electronics. Electronic applications represent a significant amount of the United States’ annual gold consumption, followed by dentistry and a variety of other applications. For emotional rather than economic reasons, gold is seen as a hedging metal and is hoarded during times of economic uncertainty.

    Palladium, platinum and silver have been substituted for gold. Alloys (mixtures) of gold and other base metals are extensively used in jewelry and electronics to reduce the amount of gold used while assuring the positive features for which gold is desired.