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ALL THAT GLITTERS IS NOT GOLD—BUT WHAT IS GOLD?



Gold—one of the most coveted metals in the world. We all love gold! Since humanity discovered it thousands of years ago, it’s been revered and used in almost all cultures. Being extremely malleable, a good electricity conductor and alloy with other metals, it’s not strange to see our precious gold make its way into every sphere of our life. And then of course, it possesses a natural beauty and glossy shine that could even make some go crazy about it. (You could ask the Oakenshields about that, but they’re probably not very keen on answering, though.)

But before we dive into the fantastic world of gold usage—some of which may or may not surprise you—, we have to ask ourselves another question first.

Is there only one type of gold? Is all gold the same? The answer, of course, is no.

I’m sure you’ve all heard about possessing a greater or lesser value depending on how many karat it has. Well, a karat is an ancient form of weight, but now we use it to determine the pureness of any gold item. 24 karat gold is pure gold, which means that 12 karat gold would have a 50% of actual gold inside it, the other 50% being other types of metals.

This leads us to our first type—mixing gold with other metals will give us differently coloured gold:

  • White gold: mixed with a white metal such as nickel, manganese or palladium. Its standard purity is usually 14k.

  • Rose, pink or red gold: mixed with copper. Rose gold usually is 75% gold mixed with 25% copper, red gold has a 50/50 percentage of gold and copper.

  • Green gold: also known as electrum. It’s a natural forming alloy between gold and silver.

  • Blue gold: 46% gold, 54% indium

  • Purple gold: also called amethyst gold, is 80% gold, 20% aluminum

  • Black gold: not to be confounded with raw oil, is 75% gold, 25% cobalt

As for other types of gold we also have gold bars—which are the ones we probably think of immediately when someone mentions gold—, gold coins or gold nuggets. The latter ones are a naturally occurring piece of gold with a purity from 20 to 23k. And no, you can’t eat those.

So much for gold types. Now we’re ready to move on to where we can find gold in our everyday lives.

The most obvious one is jewelry. Until recently, it constituted nearly all the demand for gold, but during the last several years, the use of gold in investing has seen quite a raise. Also very obvious is the fact that gold has served as a manner of payment across most civilizations.

When it comes to industrial uses, we find it in dentistry, for example: bridges, fillings, crowns, etc., due to gold being a bio-compatible metal. And not only that, but it’s also non allergenic. Gold truly has everything good, huh?

Keeping on the medical track, injections of gold salts are used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, and radioactive gold nanoparticles serve as a radiation source in chemotherapy. Inner ear implants, stunts and the wires of pacemakers contain gold, too.

Electronic devices also contain gold. We had already stated gold was a good conductor, and it’s also resistant to corrosion, so we’ll find it in anything from GPS systems to tablets, and even large appliances like microwaves or TVs. The same goes for computers and phones.

And last but not least, maybe the most curious fact: We can even find gold in space shuttles and astronaut outfits, since gold coated polyester helps reflect harmful rays and also stabilizes the core temperature.

… And this was your unexpected crash course in everything gold. If it has sparked your interest, and you want to know more—for example, how our pretty, shiny metal is actually found and extracted—, you might want to tune in to Yukon Gold, premiering in October on NatGeo. Just… don’t go crazy.
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