Have you ever stopped to consider just what it is about gold that makes it so special and valuable? How is it that while gold is undoubtedly the most famous, popular, frequently written about and widely discussed metal in existence, so many still know so very little about it?
The word "gold" comes from the Old English word “geolo” which means yellow. Gold is extremely dense, yet amazingly soft and malleable. It is highly attractive, bright, shiny, almost glowingly radiant metal that is resistant to such deprecating factors as corrosion and rust in both air and water. A very pliable and ductile metal, gold is also greatly valued for its ability to capably conduct both heat and electricity well.
Gold’s history is both rich and lustrous. The ancient Egyptians were very proficient goldsmiths who used the metal for their ornate statues, artifacts, jewelry, masks and tombs. Nearly 4,000 year BCE, artisans in Mesopotamia, now modern day Iraq, crafted gold cups, bowls and remarkably ornate rings, necklaces and statuettes. It was during the “Middle Ages” that the esoteric science known as "alchemy" re-awakened mans dream of being able to actually create gold by way of a combination of science and magic.
Considered the most beautiful of all metals, gold has come to be revered within the many mythologies, legends and histories of numerous cultures around the globe throughout history. Its wide usage in ancient healing traditions has led to many mysterious, mystical or metaphysical associations with the sun as well as various deities and magical powers.
Gold has always been very highly valued due to its extreme rarity; it has often been relatively easily to mine from the earth with some of the most simplistic, fundamentally basic methods and tools of the ancient world. Gold naturally occurs in the form nuggets or grains, usually gathered in a collective known as a “veins” or “alluvial deposits” found within rock, rocky soil or the sedimentary bottoms of rivers and streams.
Beyond it’s usage in the fields of art, jewelry, medicine and dentistry, it has been these natural properties and characteristics of gold being so effectively pliable and moldable that eventually led to the eventual decision of numerous governmental bodies to craft and or press gold into coins for the use of monetary trade and exchange.
In modern day historical significance, we can look to the adventurous pursuit of golden riches that came to be known as “Gold Rushes” which served to drive a great number of civilizations to expand out into previously uncharted territories to develop wild frontiers the in hopes of bringing home the gold.
In the United States it was prospectors looking for gold that set out to sojourn west across the Midwest prairies toward California and Pacific Ocean. The biggest and most famous of these U.S. gold strikes occurred back in the early 1900's near Carlin, Nevada. The year was 1851 when an abundance of gold was discovered in Australia which created a “Gold Rush” that led to the entire population of Australia tripling in less than a decade. In 1861, New Zealand experienced a similar gold rush that saw its population increase nearly as dramatically as Australia’s. The entire region of Johannesburg, South Africa was actually founded as a direct result of its 1886 gold rush. The Yukon Territory of Canada wasn’t ever developed until it experienced a gold rush that started back in 1897.
As societies continued to evolve technologically, so did the usages of gold which played a major part in the coming of “Post Edison” electronic age. This development eventually led to what became known as “The Gold Standard” the aim of which was to create a universal, cross cultural, established exchange rate for the value of money and various commodities.
Any country that was willing to redeem any of its unique currency in exchange for gold was viewed as cooperatively adhering to and participating in “The Gold Standard.” Most of western civilization adhered to the gold standard until well into 1900's. Over a period of time, however, the role of gold as a unit of measure within the worldwide monetary system, continued to greatly diminish.
Great Britain abandoned the gold standard back in 1931 and 40 years later, in 1971, the United States followed suit. While “holdings” of gold were still retained because it was an internationally recognized commodity, immune to sovereign regulation, legislation or manipulation by independent countries by the summer of 1971, no circulating currency anywhere on the planet was any longer officially redeemable in gold.
This global break away from directly tying gold and circulating currency resulted in our modern day financial system which is now referred to as fluctuating, "floating currency" system. This means governments no longer sets the gold value of their currency and so the price of gold now naturally rises and falls based exclusively on the actual demand for the metal itself.
So now gold holds its own when it comes to proving what its worth on the market and thus far, it’s done a pretty impressive job of maintaining a universal respect or perhaps it might be considered an allure or lust for the glimmering, shimmering ore of lore!