Since the dawn of civilization, gold with its radiant sun yellow texture and metallic luster has fascinated and captivated mankind. The unique coloration of gold catches the eye, enabling the seeker to detect tiny grains in an aggregate of other materials. The smallest flakes and grains are easily visible.
Excavations of Stone Age burial sites indicate that gold was the earliest element collected and treasured by man. The mysterious metal, gathered in the form of nuggets, appears to have been highly prized but was not used in practical applications. Rating 2.5 – 3 on Moh’s scale of hardness, gold was much too soft to be hammered into functional weapons or tools. Pure gold is relatively soft–it has about the hardness of a penny. It is the most malleable and ductile of metals. The specific gravity or density of pure gold is 19.3 compared to 14.0 for mercury and 11.3 for lead. Gold was of little use to prehistoric man except to be admired for its rare, intrinsic beauty.
For more than 6000 years gold has been considered symbolic of power, wealth and status. In 1350 B.C.the Egyptian boy king, Tutankhem, was interred in a coffin elaborately cast from 242 pounds of solid gold. Throughout recorded history men and women have adorned their bodies with gleaming gold. The ancient Custom of exchanging gold during marriage ceremonies continues today.
Early man believed gold contained a hidden, internal fire, a gift from the Gods with mysterious healing and magical powers. Numerous cultures of sun-worshippers revered gold as the tangible essence of their God; solid sunshine. In modern day Japan believers seek gold’s medicinal magic by immersion in a bathtub designed in the form of a phoenix crafted from 400 pounds of pure gold.
However, as man developed he soon discovered numerous nonulitarian applications for the revered golden metal. The earliest record of gold exploration dates to Egypt around 2000 B.C. Ancient records tell of an enormous alluvial gold deposit in Nubia , between the Nile River and the Red Sea in southeastern Egypt that encompassed over one hundred square miles. Using the most primitive of tools and working to an average depth of less than seven feet, these first “miners” wrestled an estimated one thousand tons of gold from this rich concentration. Egyptian artisans, recognizing the extraordinary malleability of gold fashioned incredible jewelry, ornaments and idols of breathtaking beauty.
Throughout the history of man’s involvement with gold, the precious metal has been cherished not only for its beauty but for gold’s ability to withstand the rigors of time. No substance that appears commonly in nature will destroy gold. Unaffected by air, moisture, heat or cold, this noble metal will not tarnish, rust or corrode. Shimmering gold dust, golden nuggets of placer gold and brilliant vein occurrences have survived 4.5 Billion years of cataclysmic geologic and climate changes; volcanic Eruption, earthquakes, upheavals and deposition. Treasures of gold jewelry, bullion and coins, buried for thousands of years beneath land and sea have been recovered intact; as brilliant as the day they were abandoned.
A relatively rare native metallic element, gold ranks fifty-eighth in abundance amongst the ninety two natural elements that compose the earth’s crust. Although considered a rare element, of all metals Gold is, with the exception of iron, the most broadly distributed over the planet. Gold has been located on 90% of the earth’s surface and is mined in deserts, high mountain ranges, in the deeply weathered soil of the tropics and in the permanently frozen ground of the Arctic.
Gold is commercially mined on every continent except Antarctica . The foremost gold producing area of the world is the Witwatersrand District in South Africa . This ultra-rich area has already yielded eighteen thousand tons of gold with no end in sight. Other main gold bearing areas around the world are Siberia in the former USSR, the Porcupine District in Ontario , Canada and in the United States the famous California Mother Lode District and the Yukon District of Alaska.
In America nature was extremely generous. Thirty-two states have recorded significant commercial gold production. The highest yield areas are located within the western states, California, Colorado, Alaska, Nevada and South Dakota. Other abundant locations for prospecting include Georgia, Arkansas, Idaho, Utah, Montana, Washington, New Mexico, Wyoming, North and South Carolina, Tennessee, Michigan, Vermont and New Hampshire. The recreational gold prospector can find gold in practically every state of the union.
Gold is an ideal media for craftsmen. It is a metal that can be deformed by pounding without crumbling or breaking. Gold, in its pure form is the most malleable of all metals. A solitary ounce of gold can be drawn and stretched into an ultra fine wire over 50 miles in length without breaking or hammered to the amazing thinness of one hundred thousandth of an inch without disintegrating. Gold is easily carved, readily buffs to a gleaming polish, can be heated repeatedly without discoloration and joins to itself or other metals by soldering without the need for a bonding flux.
Gold is a “storehouse of value”, the natural way for man to preserve capital and protect against financial uncertainty or monetary collapse. In modern times gold has served as a hedge against the threat of inflation and as a secure and safe way to secret away assets. The “hoarding” of gold occurs most frequently during times of war, adverse world conditions and international fears of economic uncertainty. Gold has often defeated the attempts of governments to inflate the currency of their country as well as circumventing the aims of those holding political power to direct the economy of other nations.
Gold, the acknowledged king of metals, is considered the ultimate monetary exchange. Gold is the only currency that isn’t someone else’s responsibility or liability; it is more that just a paper promise to pay upon demand. Gold’s worth does not rely on the economic viability of any nation, political power or financial cartel. Gold has value in and of itself.
The current world price of gold is set daily by the London Gold Market which trades gold bullion and coins with other financial world centers such as Zurich , Hong Kong , Frankfurt and Paris . The price is based on pure or “fine” gold, so the value of gold gleaned in its natural state may vary depending on the impurities it contains. However, raw gold sold as specimens or jewelry will bring a considerably higher price. Gold nuggets are as distinctively different as snowflakes, although similar, no two nuggets are alike. A nugget of unique character and shape will sell for as much as five times its value by weight.